The effective analgesic dose of dexamethasone after laparoscopic hysterectomy

Anesth Analg. 2009 Aug;109(2):607-15. doi: 10.1213/ane.0b013e3181ac0f5c.


Background: Apart from being antiemetic, glucocorticoids have an analgesic property. The optimal dose of dexamethasone in the management of pain after surgery has not been established. In this placebo-controlled, dose-finding study, we evaluated the analgesic effect of three doses of dexamethasone after laparoscopic hysterectomy.

Methods: We randomized 129 women scheduled for laparoscopic hysterectomy to receive placebo, dexamethasone 5 mg (D5), 10 mg (D10), or 15 mg (D15) IV before the induction of anesthesia. The patients were anesthetized with propofol and remifentanil in a standardized manner. Until the first postoperative morning, postoperative pain was managed with IV oxycodone using patient-controlled analgesia. The visual analog scale scores for pain and side effects, and the amounts of the analgesics were recorded for 3 days after surgery.

Results: The total dose of oxycodone (0-24 h after surgery) was smaller in the D15 (0.34 mg/kg [0.11-0.87]) group than in the placebo group (0.55 mg/kg [0.19-1.13]) (P = 0.003). The doses of oxycodone during Hours 0-2 after surgery were smaller in the D10 (0.17 mg/kg [0.03-0.36]) and D15 (0.17 mg/kg [0.03-0.35]) groups than in the placebo (0.26 mg/kg [0.10-0.48]) (P = 0.001, D10 versus placebo; P < 0.001, D15 versus placebo) group. During Hours 2-24 after surgery, however, the doses of oxycodone were equal in the placebo, D5, D10, and D15 groups (0.31 mg/kg [0.03-0.78], 0.22 mg/kg [0.03-0.92], 0.24 mg/kg [0.05-0.87], and 0.20 mg/kg [0-0.65], respectively). The visual analog scale scores for pain at rest, in motion, or at cough did not differ in the study groups. The incidence of dizziness was lower in the D15 group than in the placebo group (P = 0.001), the D5 group (P = 0.006), and the D10 group (P = 0.030) during the first 24 h after surgery. During the later course of recovery, the incidence of dizziness did not differ among the four study groups.

Conclusions: IV dexamethasone 15 mg before induction of anesthesia decreases the oxycodone consumption during the first 24 h after laparoscopic hysterectomy. During first 2 h after surgery, dexamethasone 10 mg reduces the oxycodone consumption as effectively as the 15 mg dose.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Anesthesia, General
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Dexamethasone / administration & dosage*
  • Dexamethasone / therapeutic use*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hysterectomy*
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Laparoscopy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxycodone / administration & dosage
  • Oxycodone / therapeutic use
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain, Postoperative / diagnosis
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy*


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Dexamethasone
  • Oxycodone