Eur Respir J. 2021 Jan 21:2002535. doi: 10.1183/13993003.02535-2020. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Adjunctive intravenous corticosteroid treatment has shown to reduce length of stay (LOS) in adults hospitalised with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). We aimed to assess the effect of oral dexamethasone on LOS and whether this effect is disease severity dependent.
METHODS: In this multicentre, stratified randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, immunocompetent adults with CAP were randomly assigned (1:1 ratio) to receive oral dexamethasone (6 mg once daily) or placebo for 4 days in four teaching hospitals in the Netherlands. Randomisation (blocks of four) was stratified by CAP severity (pneumonia severity index class I-III and IV-V). The primary outcome was LOS. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT01743755).
RESULTS: Between December 2012 and November 2018, 401 patients were randomised to receive dexamethasone (n=203) or placebo (n=198). Median LOS was shorter in the dexamethasone group (4.5 days (95% CI 4.0-5.0)) than in the placebo group (5.0 days (95% CI 4.6-5.4); p=0.033). Within both CAP severity subgroups, differences in LOS between treatment groups were not statistically significant. Secondary ICU admission rate was lower in the dexamethasone arm (5 (3%) versus 14 (7%), p=0.030), 30-day mortality did not differ between groups. In the dexamethasone group rate of hospital readmission tended to be higher (20 (10%) versus 9 (5%); p=0.051) and hyperglycaemia (14 (7%) versus 1 (1%); p=0.001) was more prevalent.
CONCLUSION: Oral dexamethasone reduced LOS and ICU admission rate in adults hospitalised with CAP. It remains unclear for which patients the risk-benefit ratio is optimal.