A cooperative study was conducted to determine the efficacy of 30 days of treatment with either a glucocorticosteroid (prednisolone) or an anabolic steroid (oxandrolone) in moderate or severe alcoholic hepatitis. One hundred thirty-two patients with moderate disease and 131 with severe disease were randomly assigned to one of three treatments: prednisolone, oxandrolone, or placebo. During the 30 days, mortality in the groups receiving steroid therapy was not significantly different from mortality in the placebo group. Thirteen per cent of the moderately ill patients and 29 per cent of the severely ill patients died. Although neither steroid improved short-term survival, oxandrolone therapy was associated with a beneficial effect on long-term survival. This was especially true in patients with moderate disease: among those who survived for one or two months after the start of treatment the conditional six-month death rate was per cent after oxandrolone and 19 to 20 per cent after placebo (P = ). No consistent long-term effect was associated with prednisolone therapy.
A very typical case of severe cholestasis due to anabolic steroid use. Because the steroids were being used without medical supervision, the dose and actual duration of use of each preparation was unclear, but cholestasis usually arises within 4 to 12 weeks of starting a C-17 alkylated androgenic steroid. The jaundice can be severe and prolonged and accompanied by severe pruritus and marked weight loss. The serum enzymes are typically minimally elevated except for a short period immediately after stopping therapy. The pattern of enzyme elevations can be hepatocellular, cholestatic or mixed. Liver biopsy shows a “bland” cholestasis with minimal inflammation and hepatocellular necrosis. Ma Huang has also been implicated in cases of drug induced liver injury, but is associated with an acute hepatocellular pattern of injury.
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