Tolmetin and salicylate therapy in acute rheumatic fever: Comparison of clinical efficacy and side-effects.
ABSTRACT The arthritis of rheumatic fever is very responsive to treatment with salicylates, but there are many adverse reactions, especially hepatotoxicity, due to aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) therapy. These side-effects change the course and duration of rheumatic fever. Other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be equally effective, although no reports are available.
We studied 72 patients with rheumatic fever who were admitted to Dr Sami Ulus Children's Hospital between 1995 and 1999. Twenty patients with arthritis were treated with tolmetin (25 mg/kg per day; group I) and 52 patients with arthritis and/or mild carditis were put on aspirin therapy (75-100 mg/kg per day) for 4-6 weeks (group II). Arthritis had disappeared at the same time in both the aspirin and tolmetin groups (P = 0.675).
The erythrocyte sedimentation rates of patients upon admission, at the first week and at the end of therapy were not different in the two groups (P > 0.05). No adverse effect of tolmetin therapy was observed, whereas side-effects of salicylate were observed in 19 patients (36.5%) in the aspirin group. Hepatotoxicity, gastric irritation and salicylism were found in 16, four and three patients, respectively. Renal toxicity and Reye syndrome were not demonstrated. Because of these side-effects of aspirin, therapy had to be stopped for 10-20 days and the duration of hospitalization in this group was lengthened unnecessarily.
Tolmetin was safe and effective treatment for arthritic rheumatic fever patients without carditis. Tolmetin can be used particularly in patients who cannot tolerate aspirin.