Objective: The study goal was to determine whether the combination of dexamethasone with preemptive analgesia has an additive effect in further improving recovery.
Study design: We conducted a prospective, randomized, double-blinded trial of 50 children undergoing tonsillectomy at a university ambulatory surgery center. One study group received 1 intravenous dose of dexamethasone, and another group received 1 dose of saline solution. All patients received tonsillar fossa injections of ropivacaine plus clonidine before tonsil excision.
Results: The 2 study groups were similar in main outcome measurements. Pain intensity and quality of life were not statistically different between the groups. There was a small trend to less trismus and less cumulative codeine use in the steroid group. Overall, there was a very low incidence of nausea and vomiting in both groups, which may have been due to the preemptive analgesia.
Conclusion: Dexamethasone does not significantly improve the morbidity of pediatric tonsillectomy when preemptive analgesia with ropivacaine and clonidine is used concurrently.