Management of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children: Decision-Making Regarding a New Condition in the Absence of Clinical Trial Data

Ashraf S. Harahsheh, Michael A. Portman, Michael Khoury, Matthew D. Elias, Simon Lee, Justin Lin, Brian W. McCrindle*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) is a new illness that evolved during the COVID-19 pandemic with initial reports of severe disease including use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation and death. Institutions rapidly assembled task forces to develop treatment algorithms. At the national/international levels, collaboratives and associations assembled consensus writing groups to draft guidelines. These guidelines and algorithms were initially on the basis of expert opinion and small case series. Some groups used the Delphi approach, and the resultant guidelines often mimicked those for other conditions that resembled MIS-C, like Kawasaki disease (KD). For instance, intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), a known effective treatment for KD, was recommended for MIS-C. Early in the pandemic many favoured IVIG over steroids as first-line therapy. As evidence evolved so did some guidelines, which now endorse the dual use of IVIG with steroids as first-line therapy. In contrast, withholding immunotherapy became an option for some MIS-C patients with mild symptoms. Herein, we review guidelines and discuss the evidence informing early recommendations, how this has evolved, the role and limitations of expert opinion and observational data, and the importance of leveraging existing research infrastructures, such as the intensive care unit collaborative (Overcoming COVID-19 surveillance registry), and the International Kawasaki Disease Registry. Finally, we discuss strategies to rapidly develop, deploy, and adapt clinical trials evaluating the treatment of such rare conditions in children, which might include alternatives to conventional clinical trial design. The emergence of MIS-C during the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted unmet needs regarding research of a new condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)803-814
Number of pages12
JournalCanadian Journal of Cardiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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