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Abstract

Objective. To review the clinical course of 16 children with recalcitrant dermatomyositis (DM), who were treated with oral methotrexate (MTX) in addition to prednisone.

Methods. Sixteen patients with recalcitrant DM who were treated with MTX in addition to prednisone were followed between 1984 and 1990. The patients' clinical responses to treatment, including alterations in muscle strength and muscle enzyme levels, changes in prednisone dosage, and development of toxicity or complications were reviewed retrospectively.

Results. All 12 patients who received MTX for at least 8 months regained normal muscle strength. In 11 of the 12, the prednisone dosage could eventually be tapered to ⩽5 mg/day. Complications during MTX treatment required discontinuation of MTX in 5 patients, and were unrelated to the cumulative dose of the drug. Active disease recurred in 5 patients in whom MTX had been discontinued after apparent clinical remission had been achieved.

Conclusion. MTX, in combination with prednisone, is a useful adjunct in the treatment of recalcitrant childhood DM. However, recurrence of disease after withdrawal of MTX suggests that the drug may have a suppressive, rather than a remittive, effect.