Corticosteroid or Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs for the Treatment of Acute Gout: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials

Christy Amanda Billy, Ricky Tanujaya Lim, Marinella Ruospo, Suetonia C Palmer, Giovanni F M Strippoli
Journal of Rheumatology 2018, 45 (1): 128-136

OBJECTIVE: Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAID) are used as first-line agents to treat acute gout. Recent trials suggest a possible first-line role for corticosteroids.

METHODS: We conducted a metaanalysis of randomized controlled trials (RCT) evaluating corticosteroid versus NSAID therapy (nonselective and selective) as treatment for acute gout. MEDLINE, EMBASE, and CENTRAL were systematically searched through August 2016. Outcomes included pain, bleeding, joint swelling, erythema, tenderness, activity limitation, response to therapy, quality of life, time to resolution, supplementary analgesics, and adverse events. Evidence quality was summarized using the GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation) system.

RESULTS: Six eligible trials (817 patients) were identified. The mean study followup was 15 days (range 4-30). Risks of bias were generally low. In low- to moderate-quality evidence, corticosteroids did not have different effects on pain score at < 7 days [standardized mean difference (SMD) -0.09, 95% CI -0.26 to 0.08] or at ≥ 7 days (SMD 0.32, 95% CI -0.27 to 0.92) when compared with NSAID. There was no evidence of different risks of gastrointestinal bleeding [relative risk (RR) 0.09, 95% CI 0.01-1.67]. There was no evidence of different responses to therapy on pain at < 7 days (RR 1.07, 95% CI 0.80-1.44) and ≥ 7 days, time to disease resolution, or number of supplementary analgesics used (MD 2.10 drugs, 95% CI -1.01 to 5.21). There was a lower risk of indigestion (RR 0.50, 95% CI 0.27-0.92), nausea (RR 0.25, 95% CI 0.11-0.54), and vomiting (RR 0.11, 95% CI 0.02-0.56) with corticosteroid therapy.

CONCLUSION: There is no evidence that corticosteroids and NSAID have different efficacy in managing pain in acute gout, but corticosteroids appear to have a more favorable safety profile for selected adverse events analyzed in existing RCT.

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