Monday, October 24, 2011
Bactrim prophylaxis with high-dose steroid use?
This is a question we face quite often in the Nephrology clinic when we are commencing patients on high dose steroids for glomerular and other systemic inflammatory diseases.
I came across a couple of interesting retrospective studies while trying to find some evidence to help guide the decision-making process.
The first study analyzed 116 cases of pneumocystis pneumonia in non-HIV infected patients. The major common exposure was steroid treatment in the month preceding presentation (90.5% of patients) – the median dose was equivalent to 30mg prednisone for a median of 12 weeks before presentation.
The second reported risk factors in 41 cases in a French centre. Mortality was 29%; 85% had received steroids at a median daily steroid dose equivalent to 15mg prednisone. Only 17% had received prophylaxis.
The third used a matched case-control type analysis in patients with SLE – they reported 15 cases of pneumocystis infection; risk factors for infection compared to 60 matched controls included higher disease activity, renal involvement and higher mean cumulative steroid dose (49 vs 20mg/day; p<0.01).
Finally a Cochrane review of RCTs of prophylaxis against PCP (versus none/placebo/non-PCP agents) suggested that prophylaxis was warranted when the risk of PCP infection is higher than 3.5% for adults – the authors suggested this included the following groups – “recipients of solid organ or allogeneic bone allografts for the first 6 months after transplant and, for the latter, throughout the period of immunosuppression, as well as in patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and Wegener granulomatosis”
There are a number of factors to be considered when trying to answer this difficult scenario – the dose of steroids used, the duration of treatment, use of other immunosuppressive drugs (i.e. the net state of immunosuppression), medical co-morbid conditions and infection history.
Many experts suggest prophylaxis for patients with rheumatological diseases requiring treatment with ≥20mg prednisone for greater than one month when used in combination with another immunosuppressive drug. Overall the pros and cons of PCP prophylaxis must ultimately be judged on a case-by-case basis.