Variations in perioperative steroid management among surgical subspecialists

Am Surg. 2010 Dec;76(12):1363-7.


Previously we demonstrated consistency in perioperative steroid dosing among colon and rectal surgeons. To determine whether patterns have changed and if dosing schedules differ across surgical specialties, we evaluated multiple specialties. Questionnaires were mailed to members of the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (CRS) (n = 1523), American Society of Transplant Surgeons (TS) (n = 988), American Society of General Surgeons (GS) (n = 2750), and American Association of Endocrine Surgeons (ES) (n = 278). Surveys addressed demographic factors and factors in dosing, whether steroids are managed by surgeon alone or in collaboration with colleagues, and the most common taper regimens used. Four hundred fifty surveys were returned. Sixty-four respondents had retired or answered less than 50 per cent; 386 (211CRS, 116GS, 45TS, and 14ES) were available for analysis. The majority managed both perioperative (85.5%) and tapers (77%) themselves; TS and ES were significantly less likely to use other physicians (P < 0.001). The preoperative dose used most frequently was 100 mg hydrocortisone intravenously (76% CRS, 64% GS, 22% TS, and 93% ES). Most CRS (44.5%) and GS (24.1%) taper intravenous steroids over 3 days, whereas TS (33.3%) and ES (50%) return patients to prednisone within 1 to 2 days. Discharge steroid use was inconsistent with CRS (46.4%) tapering prednisone over greater than 21 days, GS (19%) over less than 21 days, and TS (20%) and ES (21.4%) taper over 21 days to preoperative prednisone doses (P < 0.001). In the absence of standard guidelines for perioperative corticosteroid administration, significant variations exist in the regimens used by surgeons in multiple specialties.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / administration & dosage*
  • Adult
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / administration & dosage
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Perioperative Care / standards*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'* / standards
  • Specialties, Surgical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Hydrocortisone