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Table of Contents
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 47-48

Disease progression after discontinuation of corticosteroid treatment in a COVID-19 patient with ARDS

Department of Internal Medicine, University of Medicine and Pharmacy; University Medical Center, HCMC, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Date of Submission30-Dec-2021
Date of Decision07-Jan-2022
Date of Acceptance11-Jan-2022
Date of Web Publication20-Jan-2022

Correspondence Address:
Lam Nguyen-Ho
Department of Internal Medicine, University of Medicine and Pharmacy; University Medical Center, HCMC, Ho Chi Minh City
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1995-7645.335702

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How to cite this article:
Nguyen-Ho L. Disease progression after discontinuation of corticosteroid treatment in a COVID-19 patient with ARDS. Asian Pac J Trop Med 2022;15:47-8

How to cite this URL:
Nguyen-Ho L. Disease progression after discontinuation of corticosteroid treatment in a COVID-19 patient with ARDS. Asian Pac J Trop Med [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Dec 7];15:47-8. Available from:

Excessive acute inflammatory response in coronavirus-induced disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients results in multiple organ injury, especially acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), contributing to a high mortality of the disease[1],[2]. More evidence showed that corticosteroid, an immunomodulatory agent, reduces both the need of invasive mechanical ventilation and lowers the mortality of severe COVID-19 patients. However, its optimal dose and therapeutic duration is still ambiguous. The RECOVERY trial revealed that using corticosteroid up to 10 days reduced the mortality of hospitalized COVID-19 patients[3] and a finding also upheld by a meta-analysis by Cano et al.[4]. To the best of our knowledge, currently, there is no study evaluating disease progression after discontinuation of corticosteroid treatment in COVID-19 patients with ARDS.

A 61-year-old female patient with past history of atrial fibrillation and prosthetic bicuspid valve presented with a one-week history of fever, cough and fatigue. Her real-time polymerase chain reaction test for SARS-COV-2 was positive and peripheral capillary oxygen saturation was 89% with 15 L/min of oxygen via reservoir mask. Chest X-ray showed bilateral diffuse infiltration, predominantly in the lower half fields [Figure 1]A. She was treated with oxygen via high flow nasal cannula, ceftriaxone, moxifloxacin, remdesivir, unfractionated heparin, and methylprednisolone (80 mg/ day) according to the national guideline. On the sixth hospitalized day, her respiratory failure worsened with right pneumothorax requiring endotracheal intubation and chest drainage [Figure 1]B. On the eleventh hospitalized day, the removal of both the chest tube and the endotracheal tube was undertaken [Figure 1]C and the supplementation of oxygen via high flow nasal cannula (flow 50 L/ min and FiO2: 40%) was indicated with the result of PaO2/FiO2 232. Methylprednisolone was stopped after the 10-day course of treatment. However, four days after discontinuing corticosteroid, her respiratory condition aggravated with a higher demand of oxygen (PaO2/FiO2 96) and progressive parenchymal infiltration on chest X-ray [Figure 1]D. Follow-up of inflammatory biomarkers showed a high inflammatory response on the fifteenth hospitalized day and restarting methylprednisolone was indicated and her condition improved spectacularly [Figure 1]E and [Figure 1]F.
Figure 1: Chest X-ray images and changes of inflammatory biomarkers and PaO2/FiO2 in a 61-year-old female patient with COVID-19. A: Chest X-ray on the first hospitalized day shows bilateral diffuse infiltrates. B: Chest X-ray on the sixth hospitalized day shows right pneumothorax with visceral pleura (red arrows) and the endotracheal tube (red asterisk). C: Chest X-ray on the eleventh hospitalized day shows lessened the improvement parenchymal infiltration (black asterisks). D: Chest X-ray on the fifteenth hospitalized day after stopping corticosteroid shows the progression of parenchymal infiltration (black asterisks). E: Chest X-ray on the twentieth hospitalized day shows abated parenchymal infiltration again upon resumption of corticosteroid therapy (black asterisks). F: Changes of inflammatory biomarkers and PaO2/FiO2. CRP: C-reactive protein; IL-6: interleukin-6; NLR: neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio; PaO2/FiO2: partial pressure of oxygen/fraction of inspired oxygen; D1, D6, D11, D15, and D20: the first, sixth, eleventh, fifteenth, and twentieth hospitalized day, respectively.

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Prolonged corticosteroid (methylprednisolone) treatment is recommended in ARDS to prevent a reconstituted inflammatory response[5]. Therefore, evaluation of inflammatory response after discontinuing corticosteroid in COVID-19 patients with ARDS should be considered. Besides, several previous case reports showed that prolonged corticosteroid treatment can be more beneficial, especially in post-acute COVID-19 patients with residual radiological changes and persistent dyspnea[6]. Further studies on this topic are required to provide more knowledge relating to specific therapeutic duration of corticosteroid and personalized therapy effectively.

Conflict of interest statement

The author declares that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval and informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from the patient for the publication of this case report and any accompanying images.


The author thanks the patient to give permission to publish this letter.

  References Top

Lopes-Pacheco M, Silva PL, Cruz FF, Battaglini D, Robba C, Pelosi P, et al. Pathogenesis of multiple organ injury in COVID-19 and potential therapeutic strategies. Front Physiol 2021; 12: 593223.  Back to cited text no. 1
Mallick AK, Ahsan M. Impact of COVID-19 on different organ systems and prognosis: A scoping review. J Acute Dis 2021; 10(1): 1-7.  Back to cited text no. 2
RECOVERY Collaborative Group, Horby P, Lim WS, Emberson JR, Mafham M, Bell JL, et al. Dexamethasone in hospitalized patients with COVID-19. N Engl J Med 2021; 384: 693-704.  Back to cited text no. 3
Cano EJ, Fuentes XF, Campioli CC, O’ Horo JC, Saleh OA, Odeyemi Y, et al. Impact of corticosteroids in coronavirus disease 2019 outcomes: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Chest 2021; 159: 1019-1040.  Back to cited text no. 4
Annane D, Pastores SM, Rochwerg B, Arlt W, Balk RA, Beishuizen A, et al. Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of critical illness-related corticosteroid insufficiency (CIRCI) in critically ill patients (part I): Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) and European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM) 2017. Crit Care Med 2017; 45: 2078-2088.  Back to cited text no. 5
Kostorz-Nosal S, Jastrz bski D, Chyra M, Kubicki P, Zieli ski M, Ziora D. A prolonged steroid therapy may be beneficial in some patients after the COVID-19 pneumonia. Eur Clin Respir J 2021; 8: 1945186.  Back to cited text no. 6


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