Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis: A review of the literature

Erik Letko, Dean N. Papaliodis, George N. Papaliodis, Yassine J. Daoud, A. Razzaque Ahmed, C. Stephen Foster

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

233 Scopus citations


Objective: To perform a comprehensive review of Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis. Data Sources: A MEDLINE search was performed for the years 1975 to 2003 using the keywords Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis to identify relevant articles published in English in peer-reviewed journals. Study Selection: All clinical studies that reported on 4 or more patients, review articles, and experimental studies that concerned disease mechanisms were selected and further analyzed. Clinical reports that included fewer than 4 patients were selected only if they were believed to carry a significant message about disease mechanism or therapy. Results: Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis seem to be variants of the same disease with differing severities. A widely accepted consensus regarding diagnostic criteria and therapy does not exist at present. Despite the recent experimental studies, the pathogenic mechanisms of these diseases remain unknown. Although progress in survival through early hospitalization in specialized burn units has been made, the prevalence of life-long disability from the ocular morbidity of Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis has remained unchanged for the past 35 years. Further progress depends on modification of the acute phase of the disease rather than continuation of supportive care. The available published evidence indicates that a principal problem in the pathogenesis is immunologic and that immunomodulatory intervention with short-term, high-dose intravenous steroids or intravenous immunoglobulin holds the most promise for effective change in survival and long-term morbidity. Conclusions: The results of this review call for a widely accepted consensus on diagnostic criteria for Stevens-Johnson and toxic epidermal necrolysis and multicenter collaboration in experimental studies and clinical trials that investigate disease mechanisms and novel therapeutic interventions, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-436
Number of pages18
JournalAnnals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis: A review of the literature'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this