Steroids in severe head injury. A prospective randomized clinical trial

T. G. Saul, T. B. Ducker, M. Salcman, E. Carro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


This is a prospective randomized study of the efficacy of steroid therapy in patients with severe head injury. One hundred patients were randomized into two equal groups: the steroid group received 5 mg/kg/day of methylprednisolone, and the nonsteroid group received no drug. The groups were similar in their clinical features. All patients received a standardized therapeutic regimen. The patients were also classified as early responders or nonresponders to the overall treatment protocol without regard to steroid administration, on the basis of change in Glasgow Coma Scale score during the first 3 days of admission. There was no statistically significant difference in the outcome of the steroid and nonsteroid group at 6 months. Of the responders who were on steroids, 74% had good outcomes or were disabled, compared with 56% of the responders who did not receive steroids. In the nonresponder group, the patients on steroids were actually associated with a worse outcome than those who did not receive steroids: 75% of the nonresponders who received steroids were dead or vegetative, compared to 56% of those who were not receiving steroids. The data suggest that: 1) the effect of steroids may be different for different patient groups; 2) in order to identify these patients, a sensitive coma scale is needed; and 3) a rational approach to steroid therapy in head-injured patients may be to start all patients on steroids, but to discontinue their use in patients identified as not benefitting from steroid therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)596-600
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1981
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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