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Wiley, Hepatology, 1(32), p. 36-42, 2000

DOI: 10.1053/jhep.2000.8627



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Short- and long-term outcome of severe alcohol-induced hepatitis treated with steroids or enteral nutrition: A multicenter randomized trial

This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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Steroids are recommended in severe alcohol-induced hepatitis, but some data suggest that artificial nutrition could also be effective. We conducted a randomized trial comparing the short- and long-term effects of total enteral nutrition or steroids in these patients. A total of 71 patients (80% cirrhotic) were randomized to receive 40 mg/d prednisolone (n = 36) or enteral tube feeding (2,000 kcal/d) for 28 days (n = 35), and were followed for 1 year or until death. Side effects of treatment occurred in 5 patients on steroids and 10 on enteral nutrition (not significant). Eight enterally fed patients were prematurely withdrawn from the trial. Mortality during treatment was similar in both groups (9 of 36 vs. 11 of 35, intention-to-treat) but occurred earlier with enteral feeding (median 7 vs. 23 days; P =.025). Mortality during follow-up was higher with steroids (10 of 27 vs. 2 of 24 intention-to-treat; P =. 04). Seven steroid patients died within the first 1.5 months of follow-up. In contrast to total enteral nutrition (TEN), infections accounted for 9 of 10 follow-up deaths in the steroid group. In conclusion, enteral feeding does not seem to be worse than steroids in the short-term treatment of severe alcohol-induced hepatitis, although death occurs earlier with enteral nutrition. However, steroid therapy is associated with a higher mortality rate in the immediate weeks after treatment, mainly because of infections. A possible synergistic effect of both treatments should be investigated.