Single-Dose Dexamethasone Reduces Dynamic Pain After Total Hip Arthroplasty

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Preoperative glucocorticoids reduce postoperative nausea but may also improve analgesia and decrease opioid consumption.


Fifty consecutive patients undergoing elective, unilateral, primary total hip arthroplasty under spinal anesthesia with propofol sedation received in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled manner either 40 mg of dexamethasone or saline placebo IV before the start of surgery. IV patient-controlled analgesia morphine, ibuprofen 400 mg po q6 h and acetaminophen 650 mg po q6 h were given for 48 h. Pain (0–10 numeric rating scale, NRS) at rest, side effects, and total cumulative patient-controlled analgesia morphine consumption were recorded q4 h for 48 h. Dynamic pain NRS score was recorded at 24 h. C-reactive protein levels were measured in a subgroup of 25 patients at 48 h.


The intraoperative sedation requirement with propofol was significantly increased in the dexamethasone group (234.6 ± 160.1 vs 138.8 ± 122.7 mg, P = 0.02). Dynamic pain was greatly reduced in the dexamethasone group (NRS score: 2.7, 95% CI: 2.2–3.1 vs 6.8, 6.4–7.2; P < 0.0001). There was no significant effect on pain at rest or cumulative morphine consumption at any time. C-reactive protein levels at 48 h were markedly reduced by dexamethasone (52.4 mg/mL, 28.2–76.6 vs 194.2, 168.9–219.4; P < 0.0001). Seven patients in the control group, but only one in the dexamethasone group, were treated for nausea (P = 0.05).


A single, preoperative IV dose of dexamethasone 40 mg has a prolonged suppressive effect on the inflammatory response and decreases dynamic pain 24 h after total hip arthroplasty.

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