Purpose: Idiopathic retroperitoneal fibrosis is an uncommon disease of unknown etiology that may involve the ureters and other retroperitoneal structures. Surgical ureterolysis as well as medical treatment with steroids have been used to treat these patients. However, there is no agreement as to the dose and duration of steroid. We adopted a regimen of long-term steroid use in this prospective study. Materials and Methods: We treated 12 patients with idiopathic retroperitoneal fibrosis with a regimen of steroids during a 10-year period. Tissue diagnosis was established by biopsy of all lesions and ureteral obstruction was managed with insertion of a nephrostomy tube or a ureteral stent. The initial dose of prednisolone was 60 mg. on alternate days for 2 months and was tapered during the following 2 months to a daily dose of 5 mg. The total duration of prednisolone use was 2 years. Results: Of the 12 patients 11 who completed this treatment regimen have been followed for a duration of 26 to 132 months (median 63.1) after discontinuation of treatment. Good response in the form of relief of symptoms and regression of the mass occurred in 9 cases and there were 2 failures. In 1 case the retroperitoneal mass did not regress and surgical ureterolysis was required. In the 2nd case symptoms recurred after discontinuation of steroid and a further small dose of steroids was required. Function deteriorated in 1 of 19 functioning renal units. No steroid related serious side effects developed. Conclusions: This regimen of steroid may be used as the primary mode of treatment for the majority of patients with idiopathic retroperitoneal fibrosis with minimal complications. Patients with idiopathic retroperitoneal fibrosis should be followed periodically for the rest of their lives.
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