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Cochrane corner: colchicine for pericarditis
  1. Samer Alabed1,2,
  2. Juan B Cabello3,
  3. Amanda Burls4
  1. 1Department of Cardiovascular Science, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
  2. 2Department of Clinical Radiology, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, Sheffield, UK
  3. 3Department of Cardiology, Hospital General de Alicante, Alicante, Spain
  4. 4Department of Health Services Research and Management Division, City University London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Samer Alabed, Department of Cardiovascular Science, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S10 2RX, UK; s.alabed{at}

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Pericarditis is inflammation and swelling of the pericardium, the fluid-filled sac surrounding the heart, and causes chest pain. Most acute pericarditis is either idiopathic or follows a viral infection. Acute pericarditis is not usually life threatening and is normally treated medically on an outpatient basis with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and steroids in severe cases or where NSAIDs are contraindicated.1 Recurrence is the most common serious complication and is characterised by the return of severe pericardial pain after recovery from acute pericarditis.

Colchicine is a drug with anti-inflammatory properties used for centuries to treat gout. It has also been used for many years by some as adjunct medication in the treatment of pericarditis.1 However, it was not until the beginning of this millennium that the effectiveness of colchicine in pericarditis was evaluated in a randomised controlled trial (RCT).1 This was followed by more RCTs, making it desirable to collate and summarise the available evidence in a systematic review.

A Cochrane systematic review2 was therefore conducted to review colchicine's effect on preventing recurrences of pericarditis (table 1). Four trials were included.1 ,3–5 Two trials1 ,5 assessed 360 individuals with new onset of acute pericarditis and the other two trials3 , …

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