The optimum treatment for myocarditis in children is unknown. We present outcomes for this disease as seen in a large series of children. Thus, we identified all children seen with myocarditis at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh since 1985, including only those with biopsy-proven myocarditis, or cardiac dysfunction and proof of concomitant cardiotropic viral infection. Outcomes were defined as complete recovery, incomplete recovery, and death or transplantation.
We identified 41 patients, 37 proven by histology, and 4 patients who were too unstable for biopsy but had proof of viral infection. Of the group, 27 (66%) made a complete recovery, 4 (10%) had incomplete recovery, and 10 (24%) either died (5) or underwent transplantation (5). The median time to death or transplantation was 8.4 months, with a range from 1 day to 49 months. Steroids had been administered to 16 patients, of whom 10 made a complete recovery, 2 an incomplete recovery, 2 died, and 2 were transplanted. Intravenous immune globulin was given in isolation to one patient, who made a complete recovery, and to 18 in combination with steroids, of whom 12 made a complete recovery, 2 an incomplete recovery, 2 died, and 2 were transplanted. The remaining 6 patients received neither steroids nor intravenous immune globulin, and of these, 4 made a complete recovery, 1 was transplanted, and 1 died. Freedom from death or transplantation was 81% at 1 year, and 74% at 5 years, with no difference between the modes of treatments. The median time to recovery of function was also comparable between the groups. Thus, in our patients, treatment with intravenous immune globulin appeared to confer no advantage to steroid therapy alone. These data emphasise the need for randomised trials to assess the efficacy of current treatments, as well as that of new therapies.