, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 593-599
Date: 21 Apr 2013

The use of a low dose hydrocortisone to prevent pulmonary embolism in patients with multiple trauma

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Abstract

Background Venous thromboembolism events are common in trauma patients. Immediate acute inflammation following injury triggers coagulation cascade and may increase the risk of pulmonary embolism (PE) in this population. Objective We aimed to evaluate whether early low-dose steroids prevent symptomatic PE onset in multiple trauma patients. Setting The medical surgical intensive care unit of Habib Bourguiba University Hospital (Sfax—Tunisia). Methods Comparative study of two cohorts: a retrospective cohort of patients who didn’t receive early low-dose steroids (steroid (−) group) and a prospective cohort of patients who received hydrocortisone with a dose of 100 mg/8 h for a scheduled period of 7 days (steroid (+) group). All adult patients admitted in our intensive care unit (ICU) for multiple trauma with predicted duration of mechanical ventilation over 48 h were included. Main outcome measure Evaluation of the impact of low-dose steroids on the incidence of symptomatic PE. Results We included 175 patients: 92 in the steroids (−) group and 83 in the steroids (+) group. PE was diagnosed in 15 patients (8.5 %). The incidence of PE was significantly lower in steroid (+) group (3.6 vs 13 %; p = 0.013). In multivariate analysis, independent factors predicting PE onset were meningeal hemorrhage [OR = 14.7; 95 % CI (2.2–96.3); p = 0.013] and pelvic ring trauma [OR = 8; 95 % CI (1.8–36.4); p = 0.007] whereas low-dose steroids were significantly associated with a protective effect [OR = 0.2; 95 % CI (0.05–0.77); p = 0.019]. There was no significant difference between steroids (+) and steroids (−) groups neither in terms of mean ICU length of stay (LOS) (respectively 11 ± 9.7 and 12.3 ± 10.7 days; p = 0.372) nor in terms of ICU mortality (respectively 29.3 and 24.1 %; p = 0.434). Conclusion Steroids are effective in reducing the incidence of PE in multiple trauma patients. However, no significant benefice was found on ICU mortality.