Perioperative glucocorticoids in hip and knee surgery - benefit vs. harm? A review of randomized clinical trials

101 Citations (Scopus)


Glucocorticoids are frequently used to prevent post-operative nausea and vomiting (PONV), and may be part of multimodal analgesic regimes. The objective of this review was to evaluate the overall benefit vs. harm of perioperative glucocorticoids in patients undergoing hip or knee surgery. A wide search was performed in PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane Central to identify relevant randomized clinical trials. A systematic approach was used, starting from the PRISMA recommendations. The Cochrane Collaboration's tool was used for risk of bias assessment. Studies were divided into three groups: systemic glucocorticoid administration analogous to > 10 mg or ≤ 10 mg dexamethasone, and local glucocorticoid administration. Seventeen studies with data from 1081 patients were included in the final qualitative synthesis. Benefit (of any kind) with glucocorticoid vs. placebo was reported in 15 studies. PONV was reduced with systemic glucocorticoid. Pain was reduced with high-dose systemic and local glucocorticoid, but not with low-dose systemic glucocorticoid. Systemic inflammatory markers were reduced with low-dose and high-dose systemic glucocorticoid, and with local glucocorticoid. Functional recovery was improved with local glucocorticoid. All studies were small-sized and none sufficiently powered to meaningfully evaluate uncommon adverse events. Most of the local administration studies had poor scientific quality (high risk of bias). Due to clinical heterogeneity and poor scientific quality, no meta-analysis was performed. In conclusion, in addition to PONV reduction with low-dose systemic glucocorticoid, this review supports high-dose systemic glucocorticoid to ameliorate post-operative pain after hip and knee surgery. However, large-scale safety and dose-finding studies are warranted before final recommendations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)823-834
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2013


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