Is concomitant treatment with steroids and radiotherapy more favorable than sequential treatment in moderate-to-severe graves orbitopathy?



Glucocorticoids (GCs) and external radiotherapy (RT) are used for treating moderate-to-severe Graves’ orbitopathy (GO). We aimed to assess whether GCs and RT were more effective when administered concomitantly or sequentially.


We retrospectively analyzed clinical outcomes [assessed by Clinical Activity Score (CAS) and NOSPECS classification] in 73 patients treated with both i.v. GCs and RT. The patients were divided in two groups: In group A (53 patients), RT was delivered concomitantly with GCs, and in group B (20 patients) RT was administered subsequently to the end of methylprednisolone.


At baseline, CAS (median 4.0) and the percentage of patients encompassing the various grades of the classes 2, 3 and 4 of the NOSPECS score were similar in both groups. Six months after RT, CAS decreased to 2 in both groups (p = 0.0003 vs baseline) as well as NOSPECS class 4 (p < 0.0001 vs baseline). NOSPECS class 2 improved more in group A than in group B (p = 0.016). The median cumulative dose of GCs was lower in group A than in group B (median 4.500 vs 6000 mg, p < 0.007); the overall length of therapy was shorter in group A than in group B (68 vs 106 days, p < 0,02). The most common acute adverse effect was transient conjunctivitis (five in group A and three in group B); seven patients (five in group A and two in group B, age between 60 and 66 years) developed cataract, requiring surgery in five cases.


Concomitant administration of GC and RT showed a favorable effect in moderate-to-severe GO, thus suggesting that RT should be carried out early during steroid therapy, when clinical symptoms do not improve or deteriorate after the first i.v. administrations of GCs.

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Correspondence to Maria Grazia Ruo Redda.

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Limone, P.P., Bianco, L., Mellano, M. et al. Is concomitant treatment with steroids and radiotherapy more favorable than sequential treatment in moderate-to-severe graves orbitopathy?. Radiol med 126, 334–342 (2021).

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  • Graves’ orbithopathy
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Radiotherapy