Background: High-dose glucocorticoid may reduce postsurgical pain and improve recovery. We hypothesized that 125 mg methylprednisolone (MP) would reduce time to meet functional discharge criteria after total hip arthroplasty (THA).
Methods: Forty-eight patients undergoing unilateral THA under spinal anaesthesia were consecutively included in this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial receiving preoperative i.v. MP or saline. All patients received a standardized, multimodal analgesic regime with paracetamol, celecoxib, and gabapentin. The primary outcome was time to meet well-defined functional discharge criteria. Secondary outcomes were handgrip strength and endurance, pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, sleep quality, and rescue analgesic-, antiemetic-, and hypnotic medicine requirements. The inflammatory response measured by C-reactive protein (CRP) and actual length of stay were also registered. Discharge criteria were assessed twice daily (at 09:00 and 14:00 h) until discharge. Other outcomes were assessed at 2, 4, 6, 8, and 24 h after operation, and also in a questionnaire from postoperative day (POD) 1-4.
Results: Time to meet discharge criteria was [median (IQR) (95% CI), MP vs placebo]: 23.5 (23.3-23.7) (17.8-43.8) vs 23.5 (23.0-23.8) (20.0-46.8) h, the mean difference (95% CI) being -1.3 (-4.7 to 2.2) h, P=0.65. Overall pain for the first 24 h after surgery was significantly reduced in the MP vs the placebo group (P<0.01), as was CRP at 24 h (P<0.0001). No other between-group differences were observed. No drug-related complications were observed at follow-up on POD30.
Conclusions: MP 125 mg i.v. before surgery added to a multimodal oral analgesic regime did not reduce time to meet functional discharge criteria after THA, but improved analgesia for the first 24 h.