SAGE Journals

Safety and efficacy of methylprednisolone versus dexamethasone in critically ill patients with COVID-19 acute respiratory distress syndrome: a retrospective study

Posted on 2023-02-16 - 13:06

Corticosteroids (CSs), specifically dexamethasone (DEX), are the treatment of choice for severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) due to COVID-19 pneumonia (CARDS). However, data from both ARDS and relatively small CARDS clinical trials have suggested improved outcomes with methylprednisolone (MP) versus DEX. The objective of this retrospective cohort study was to compare the safety and effectiveness of MP and DEX in critically ill CARDS patients.


The study cohort included CARDS patients admitted to a tertiary referral intensive care unit (ICU) between April and September 2020 who received at least 5 days of CSs for CARDS.


The cohort was notable for a high severity of illness (overall, 88.5% of patients required mechanical ventilation and 16% required vasopressors on admission). The DEX group (n = 62) was significantly older with a higher illness severity [Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) 6 (4.75–8) versus 4.5 (3–7), p = 0.008], while the MP group (n = 51) received significantly more loading doses [19 (37.3%) versus 4 (6.5%), p < 0.0001]. MP was associated with a shorter time to intubation and more rapid progression to mortality [days to death: 18 (15–23) versus 27 (15–34), p = 0.026]. After correction for baseline imbalances in age and SOFA score, DEX was associated with improved mortality at 90 days compared with MP [hazard ratio (HR) = 0.43, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.23–0.80, p = 0.008]. However, there were no differences between rates of secondary infections during hospitalization or insulin requirements at 7 and 14 days.


In this cohort of critically ill CARDS, choice of CS was associated with mortality but not adverse event profile, and thus warrants further investigation.


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