New MIS-C guidance addresses diagnostic challenges, cardiac care



Updated guidance for health care providers on multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) recognizes the evolving nature of the disease and offers strategies for pediatric rheumatologists, who also may be asked to recommend treatment for hyperinflammation in children with acute COVID-19.

Guidance is needed for many reasons, including the variable case definitions for MIS-C, the presence of MIS-C features in other infections and childhood rheumatic diseases, the extrapolation of treatment strategies from other conditions with similar presentations, and the issue of myocardial dysfunction, wrote Lauren A. Henderson, MD, MMSC, of Boston Children’s Hospital, and members of the American College of Rheumatology MIS-C and COVID-19–Related Hyperinflammation Task Force.

Dr. Lauren Henderson, an attending rheumatologist at Boston Children's Hospital and assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, Boston

Dr. Lauren Henderson

However, “modifications to treatment plans, particularly in patients with complex conditions, are highly disease, patient, geography, and time specific, and therefore must be individualized as part of a shared decision-making process,” the authors said. The updated guidance was published in Arthritis & Rheumatology.

Update needed in wake of Omicron

“We continue to see cases of MIS-C across the United States due to the spike in SARS-CoV-2 infections from the Omicron variant,” and therefore updated guidance is important at this time, Dr. Henderson told this news organization.

“MIS-C remains a serious complication of COVID-19 in children and the ACR wanted to continue to provide pediatricians with up-to-date recommendations for the management of MIS-C,” she said.

“Children began to present with MIS-C in April 2020. At that time, little was known about this entity. Most of the recommendations in the first version of the MIS-C guidance were based on expert opinion,” she explained. However, “over the last 2 years, pediatricians have worked very hard to conduct high-quality research studies to better understand MIS-C, so we now have more scientific evidence to guide our recommendations.

“In version three of the MIS-C guidance, there are new recommendations on treatment. Previously, it was unclear what medications should be used for first-line treatment in patients with MIS-C. Some children were given intravenous immunoglobulin while others were given IVIg and steroids together. Several new studies show that children with MIS-C who are treated with a combination of IVIg and steroids have better outcomes. Accordingly, the MIS-C guidance now recommends dual therapy with IVIg and steroids in children with MIS-C.”

Diagnostic evaluation

The guidance calls for maintaining a broad differential diagnosis of MIS-C, given that the condition remains rare, and that most children with COVID-19 present with mild symptoms and have excellent outcomes, the authors noted. The range of clinical features associated with MIS-C include fever, mucocutaneous findings, myocardial dysfunction, cardiac conduction abnormalities, shock, gastrointestinal symptoms, and lymphadenopathy.

Some patients also experience neurologic involvement in the form of severe headache, altered mental status, seizures, cranial nerve palsies, meningismus, cerebral edema, and ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke. Given the nonspecific nature of these symptoms, “it is imperative that a diagnostic evaluation for MIS-C include investigation for other possible causes, as deemed appropriate by the treating provider,” the authors emphasized. Other diagnostic considerations include the prevalence and chronology of COVID-19 in the community, which may change over time.


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