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Guides & Guidelines

The PJ Nicholoff Steroid Protocol for Duchenne and Becker Muscular Dystrophy and Adrenal Suppression

key information

source: PLOS Currents Muscular Dystrophy

year: 2017

authors: Kathi Kinnett, Garey Noritz


Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD or Duchenne) is a progressive, life-limiting muscle-wasting disease that requires comprehensive, multidisciplinary care. This care, at minimum, should include neuromuscular, respiratory, cardiac, orthopedic, endocrine and rehabilitative interventions that address both the primary and secondary manifestations of the disease. The care needs of patients evolve over the cdourse of the disease and as they transition from childhood into young adulthood. In the past two decades, life expectancy has increased significantly by the use of corticosteroids and enhanced clinical management. Nevertheless, each year, patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy are admitted to emergency departments and intensive care units where medical expertise thrives, but where expertise in rare diseases, such as Duchenne, may not. Emergency care for patients with Duchenne can be as complex as the disease process itself. While any illness or injury may occur in a person with Duchenne, some acute scenarios are much more common in the context of the disease. Making decisions about the clinical care of a person with Duchenne who presents with an acute illness can be quite difficult — in part, because of the extensive use of corticosteroids, which can lead to adrenal suppression. The life of a person with Duchenne needing emergency care may therefore depend upon the ability of the clinician on duty in the emergency department to recognize and mitigate adrenal suppression resulting from corticosteroid dependence. With this in mind, and drawing from expertise and experience with other steroid-dependent diseases, the ‘PJ Nicholoff Steroid Protocol’ was developed. The purpose of this protocol is to provide clinicians information regarding the safe management of corticosteroid during emergency situations in patients who may have accompanying adrenal suppression. The protocol explains how to recognize the signs and symptoms of acute adrenal crisis, how to prevent it with supplemental stress doses of corticosteroids, and how to taper doses after emergency care in order to prevent corticosteroid withdrawal.

organization: Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, USA; Nationwide Children's Hospital, USA

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