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Laryngoscope. 2001 Oct;111(10):1712-8.

Do steroids reduce morbidity of tonsillectomy? Meta-analysis of randomized trials.

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Department of Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, OH 45267-0528, USA.



The study aims to reconcile conflicting published reports regarding the clinical efficacy of a single intraoperative dose of dexamethasone in reducing post-tonsillectomy morbidity.


Systematic overview (meta-analysis).


To critically evaluate the existing evidence, we performed a formal meta-analysis of eight double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled studies of dexamethasone in pediatric patients undergoing tonsillectomy or adenotonsillectomy. Reduction in postoperative emesis and pain, as well as early return to soft or solid diet, were studied as distinct end points.


Children being given a single intraoperative dose of dexamethasone (dosing, 0.15-1.0 mg/kg; maximum dose, 8-25 mg) were two times less likely to vomit in the first 24 hours than children being given placebo (relative risk [RR] = 0.55; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.41-0.74; P < .0001). Routine use in four children would be expected to result in one less patient having post-tonsillectomy emesis (risk difference [RD] = -0.24; 95% CI, -0.38 to -0.10; P = .0006). In addition, children being given dexamethasone were more likely to advance to a soft or solid diet on post-tonsillectomy day 1 (RR = 1.69; 95% CI, 1.02-2.79; P = .04) than those being given placebo. Because of missing data and varied outcome measures, pain could not be meaningfully analyzed as a distinct end point.


Given the frequency of tonsillectomy, relative safety and low cost of dexamethasone, and the reduction in postoperative morbidity, we recommend routine use of a single intravenous dose during pediatric tonsillectomy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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