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Use of steroids for abdominal tuberculosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis



The role of adjunctive steroids in abdominal tuberculosis is unclear.


To evaluate effect of adjunctive use of steroids for abdominal tuberculosis in reducing/preventing complications.


We searched electronic databases (Medline, Embase, CENTRAL, Scopus, Web of Science, CINAHL) from inception to 25th June 2018 using the terms “abdominal tuberculosis” OR “intestinal tuberculosis” OR “peritoneal tuberculosis” OR “tuberculous peritonitis” AND steroids OR methylprednisolone OR prednisolone. Bibliography of potential articles was also searched. We included studies comparing adjunctive steroids to antitubercular therapy (ATT) alone. We excluded non-English articles, case reports, reviews and unrelated papers. The primary outcome was a comprehensive clinical outcome including need for surgery or the presence of symptomatic stricture (abdominal pain or intestinal obstruction). Quality assessment of included studies was done using ROBINS-I tool. Random-effects model was used to calculate the summary effect for all the outcomes.


Of total 633 records, three studies on peritoneal tuberculosis were included in meta-analysis. These papers were of poor quality (one quasi-randomised study and two retrospective cohort studies). Meta-analyses showed adjunctive steroids, with ATT is more effective than ATT alone in tuberculous peritonitis patients for the prevention of composite end point (RR 0.15 [0.04, 0.62], p = 0.008), symptomatic stricture(RR 0.15 [0.04–0.62] p = 0.008) and intestinal obstruction (RR 0.18 [0.03–0.99] p = 0.05).


The data on use of steroids for abdominal tuberculosis are limited to peritoneal tuberculosis. Although steroids seem to have some benefit in patients of tubercular peritonitis, the poor quality of studies limits the generalisability of the findings.

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Author information




VS, HaS (Harjeet Singh): Conception. HS (Hariom Soni), BLB, VS: Literature search. HS, BLB, RRK, PMK, VS: Data extraction and risk of bias assessment. HS, BLB, RRK, PMK, VS: Data analysis. HS, BLB, VS: Initial draft. HSM, HaS, UD, VS: Important intellectual content and manuscript revision. HS, BLB: Equal contribution. All authors: final approval.

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Correspondence to Vishal Sharma.

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Soni, H., Bellam, B.L., Rao, R.K. et al. Use of steroids for abdominal tuberculosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Infection 47, 387–394 (2019).

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  • Abdominal tuberculosis
  • Tuberculous peritonitis
  • Antitubercular therapy
  • Steroids
  • Stricture
  • Surgery