AB - Background/Purpose: Early reports suggest that the use of steroids after Kasai portoenterostomy may improve bile flow and outcome in infants with biliary atresia. Methods: Of 28 infants with biliary atresia, half received adjuvant high-dose steroids, and half received standard therapy. Infants in the steroid group (n = 14) received intravenous solumedrol (taper of 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 mg/kg/d), followed by 8 to 12 weeks of prednisone (2 mg/kg/d). The steroid protocol also included ursodeoxycholic acid indefinitely and intravenous antibiotics for 8 to 12 weeks followed by oral antibiotic prophylaxis. Infants in the standard therapy group (n = 14) received no steroids, occasional ursodeoxycholic acid, and perioperative intravenous antibiotics followed by oral antibiotic prophylaxis. The infants were not assigned randomly, but rather received standard therapy or adjuvant steroid therapy according to individual surgeon preference. Results: Eleven of 14 (79%) in the steroid group and 3 of 14 (21%) in the standard therapy group had a conjugated bilirubin level less than within 3 to 4 months of surgery (P < .001). Fewer patients in the steroid group (21% v 85%) required liver transplantation or died during the first year of life (P < .001). Infants in the steroid group did better despite the fact that this group included 5 infants with biliary atresia-polysplenia-heterotaxia syndrome, a subgroup that might have been expected to have a poor prognosis. Neither bile duct size nor liver histology was a reliable predictor of success or failure in either group. Conclusions: Adjuvant therapy using high-dose steroids, ursodeoxycholic acid, and intravenous antibiotics may accelerate the clearance of jaundice and decrease the need for early liver transplantation after Kasai portoenterostomy.
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The adverse effects of corticosteroids in pediatric patients are similar to those in adults (see ADVERSE REACTIONS ). Like adults, pediatric patients should be carefully observed with frequent measurements of blood pressure, weight, height, intraocular pressure, and clinical evaluation for the presence of infection, psychosocial disturbances, thromboembolism, peptic ulcers, cataracts, and osteoporosis. Pediatric patients who are treated with corticosteroids by any route, including systemically administered corticosteroids, may experience a decrease in their growth velocity. This negative impact of corticosteroids on growth has been observed at low systemic doses and in the absence of laboratory evidence of HPA axis suppression (., cosyntropen stimulation and basal cortisol plasma levels). Growth velocity may therefore be a more sensitive indicator of systemic corticosteroid exposure in pediatric patients treated with corticosteroids should be monitored, and the potential growth effects of prolonged treatment should be weighed against clinical benefits obtained and the availability of treatment alternatives. In order to minimize the potential growth effects of corticosteroids, pediatric patients should be titrated to the lowest effective dose.