Analgesic and antiemetic effect of ketorolac vs. betamethasone or dexamethasone after ambulatory surgery

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Glucocorticoids are known to provide slower onset and more prolonged duration of analgesic effect than ketorolac. In the present study, we wanted to evaluate the effect over time from a single dose of either intravenous (i.v.) dexamethasone or an intramuscular (i.m.) depot formulation of betamethasone compared with i.v. ketorolac.

Materials and methods

One hundred and seventy-nine patients admitted for mixed ambulatory surgery were included in the study. After induction of general i.v. anaesthesia, the patients were randomized to receive double-blindly either dexamethasone 4 mg i.v. (Group D) or betamethasone depot formulation 12 mg i.m. (Group B) or ketorolac 30 mg i.v. (Group K). Fentanyl was used for rescue analgesic medication in the post-operative care unit (PACU) and codeine with paracetamol after discharge, for a study period of 3 days.


There was significantly less post-operative pain in the ketorolac group during the stay in the unit (88% with minor or less pain in Group K vs. 74% and 67% in Groups D and B, respectively, P< 0.05), significantly less need for rescue medication (P< 0.05) and significantly less nausea or vomiting (12% in Group K vs. 30% in the other groups pooled, P< 0.05). The ketorolac patients were significantly faster for ready discharge, median 165 min vs. 192 min and 203 min in Groups D and B, respectively (P< 0.01). There were no differences between the groups in perceived pain, nausea, vomiting or rescue analgesic consumption in the 4- to 72-h period.


Dexamethasone 4 mg or bethamethasone 12 mg did not provide prolonged post-operative analgesic effect compared with ketorolac 30 mg, which was superior for analgesia and antiemesis in the PACU.

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