Last updated on October 2018

Supplemental Corticosteroids in Cirrhotic Hypotensive Patients With Suspicion of Sepsis


Brief description of study

The main goal of the study is to investigate the clinical relevance, efficacy and safety of treating hypotensive cirrhotic patients with suspicion of sepsis and on vasopressors with low-dose hydrocortisone in order to reverse hemodynamic instability and organ failure and to decrease mortality.

Detailed Study Description

Ample evidence suggests that a significant number of patients (52-77%) with chronic liver disease develop adrenal insufficiency in case of concomitant sepsis. This condition impairs hemodynamic integrity and probably worsens often encountered multiorgan failure. Different groups suggested that treating those patients with corticosteroids gives a faster reversal of hemodynamic instability and even lowers mortality compared to historical controls. However, most of the published data are retrospective and comprise small groups of patients. These data raise the possibility that corticosteroids at stress doses may be beneficial in hypotensive cirrhotics admitted to the ICU but as yet this has not been subjected to a large-scale multicentre randomized controlled clinical trial.

The study will be a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial, involving tertiary intensive care units with expertise in management of patients with decompensated cirrhosis. Patients who satisfy inclusion criteria and do not present any of the exclusion criteria at ICU admission will be randomized into two groups:

  • Group A: treated with intravenous hydrocortisone in addition to standard therapy (= treatment group)
  • Group B: placebo (NaCl 0.9%) treatment in addition to standard treatment (= placebo group)

If, after adequate fluid resuscitation, patients are still on norepinephrine at a dose of at least 0,1 mcg/kg/min for at least 4 hours, the patient can be randomized. Study drug can be started immediately after randomization but no later than 24 h after initiation of norepinephrine. Patients will receive an intravenous bolus of 50 ml of normal saline (placebo) or an intravenous bolus of 50 ml of normal saline containing 100 mg of hydrocortisone (double-blind) that will be followed by a continuous intravenous infusion of the study drug (hydrocortisone) or placebo. Treatment with study drug (hydrocortisone or placebo) at initial rate will be maintained until the start of day 4 and gradually discontinued (reduction of infusion rate with 0.5 ml/h/d) when 1) patients do not require vasoactive drugs anymore to maintain MAP(mean arterial pressure) > 60 mmHg or > 65 mmHg if associated with signs of hypoperfusion in spite of ongoing adequate fluid resuscitation or 2) in any case after a 7-day treatment period.

Investigators, treating physicians, nurses and patients will be blinded to the intervention.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT02602210

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