Research Article

Intravenous methylprednisolone in the treatment of Graves' ophthalmopathy.

BMJ 1988; 297 doi: (Published 17 December 1988) Cite this as: BMJ 1988;297:1574
  1. P. Kendall-Taylor,
  2. A. L. Crombie,
  3. A. M. Stephenson,
  4. M. Hardwick,
  5. K. Hall
  1. Department of Medicine, University of Newcastle upon Tyne.


    Eleven euthyroid patients with severe Graves' eye disease were treated with intravenous methylprednisolone and followed up for six months or more by ophthalmological assessment, orbital computed tomography (CT), photographs, and antibody measurements. Papilloedema resolved in the single patient in whom it was present; visual acuity was abnormal in seven eyes initially and in only one eye after treatment; the intraocular pressure differential, which reflects muscle dysfunction, was initially abnormal in 18 eyes but showed a progressive and distinct improvement; nine patients showed substantial improvement in inflammatory signs. Exophthalmos improved early after treatment, but this improvement was not maintained. Orbital CT showed a pronounced reduction in the bulk of eye muscles after treatment in eight of nine patients. Autoantibodies to the thyroid stimulating hormone receptor declined. Adverse effects were trivial. Thus eight patients showed a clear response to intravenous methylprednisolone as judged by ophthalmic assessment and CT scan. The two patients who showed little response and one who had none all had a long history (more than a year) of ophthalmopathy. Results were better than those with oral steroids and adverse effects less. Treatment of Graves' eye disease is more likely to be effective if given early; patients should be referred promptly to specialist centres, where treatment with intravenous methylprednisolone should be considered.