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SIR: New Approach Effective for Transplant Complications

Administering steroids directly to affected organ gets better results in graft-versus-host disease

THURSDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- Graft-versus-host disease, a complication that can arise after cord blood or bone marrow transplantation, is typically treated with intravenous steroids, but in patients who do not respond to treatment, administering the steroids directly to the affected organ can increase the drug's effectiveness and reduce side effects, according to a paper presented at the 33rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society of Interventional Radiology this week in Washington, D.C.

Joshua L. Weintraub, M.D., of Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues conducted a study of 15 patients in whom standard steroid treatment for graft-versus-host disease was not effective. Steroids were administered directly via catheter to the arteries supplying the affected organ.

Within one year of follow-up, approximately 40 percent of the patients showed a complete response to treatment. There were no immediate complications associated with the drug or the procedure, the authors report.

"Overall, fewer than 30 percent of patients with steroid-resistant graft-versus-host disease respond completely or partially to the standard intravenous treatment, and their chance of living one year is 15 percent or less. This interventional radiology treatment can be life-saving for these people," Weintraub said in a statement.

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