The immune response to cardiopulmonary bypass in infants and children can lead to a series of post-operative morbidities and mortality, that is, hemodynamic instability, increased infection and tachyarrhythmias. Administration of prophylactic doses of corticosteroids is sometimes used to try and ameliorate this pro-inflammatory response. However, the clinical benefits and harms of this type of intervention in the paediatric patient remain unclear.
To systematically review the beneficial and harmful effects of the prophylactic administration of corticosteroids, compared with placebo, in paediatric open-heart surgery.
The trials registry of the Cochrane Heart Group, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials in The Cochrane Library (Issue 4, 2006), MEDLINE (1966 to January 2007), EMBASE (1980 to January 2007) were searched. An additional hand-search of the EMRO database for Arabic literature was performed. Grey literature was searched, and experts in the field were contacted for any unpublished material. No language restrictions were applied.
All randomised and quasi-randomised controlled trials of open-heart surgery in the paediatric population that received corticosteroids pre-, peri- or post-operatively, with reported clinical outcomes in terms of morbidity and mortality.
Data collection and analysis
Eligible studies were abstracted and evaluated by two independent reviewers. All meta-analyses were completed using RevMan4.2.8. Weighted mean difference (WMD) was the primary summary statistic with data pooled using a random-effects model.
All cause mortality could not be assessed as the data reports were incomplete. There was weak evidence in favour of prophylactic corticosteroid administration for reducing intensive care unit stay, peak core temperature and duration of ventilation (WMD (95% confidence intervals) -0.50 h (-1.41 to 0.41); -0.20°C (-1.16 to 0.77) and -0.63 h (-4.02 to 2.75) respectively).