Intravenous glucocorticoid for pain control after spinal fusion: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

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Postoperative pain was a common symptom after spinal surgery. This meta-analysis aimed to assess whether intravenous glucocorticoids has a beneficial role in reducing pain in patients following spinal fusion.


We systematically searched PubMed, Embase, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Web of Science, and Google databases, from inception to March 2, 2018. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that comparing intravenous glucocorticoids with control treatment for spinal fusion were included. A meta-analysis was performed to generate pooled risk ratio (RR) and weighted mean difference with corresponding 95% confidence interval (CI) for discontinuous outcomes (the occurrence of nausea and infection) and continuous outcomes (visual analog scale [VAS] at 12, 24, and 48 h; total morphine consumption; and the length of hospital stay), respectively.


Eight clinical trials involving 918 patients (glucocorticoid group = 449, control group = 469) were finally included in this meta-analysis. Compared with control, intravenous glucocorticoids had significantly reduced VAS at 12, 24, and 48 hours with statistically significance (P < .05). Intravenous glucocorticoids can decrease the occurrence of nausea (RR = 0.42, 95% CI 0.29–0.62, P = .000; I2 = 0.0%) and the length of hospital stay. No difference was noticed in the occurrence of infection between glucocorticoids intravenous and control (P > .05).


Existing evidence indicated that intravenous glucocorticoids have a beneficial role in decreasing early pain and the occurrence of nausea after spinal fusion surgery. In consideration of the limitation in current meta-analysis, more high-quality RCTs were needed to identify the optimal dose of glucocorticoids in spinal fusion patients.

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