Corticosteroids and wound healing: clinical considerations in the perioperative period

Am J Surg. 2013 Sep;206(3):410-7. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2012.11.018. Epub 2013 Jun 4.


Background: Determining whether systemic corticosteroids impair wound healing is a clinically relevant topic that has important management implications.

Methods: We reviewed literature on the effects of corticosteroids on wound healing from animal and human studies searching MEDLINE from 1949 to 2011.

Results: Some animal studies show a 30% reduction in wound tensile strength with perioperative corticosteroids at 15 to 40 mg/kg/day. The preponderance of human literature found that high-dose corticosteroid administration for <10 days has no clinically important effect on wound healing. In patients taking chronic corticosteroids for at least 30 days before surgery, their rates of wound complications may be increased 2 to 5 times compared with those not taking corticosteroids. Complication rates may vary depending on dose and duration of steroid use, comorbidities, and types of surgery.

Conclusions: Acute, high-dose systemic corticosteroid use likely has no clinically significant effect on wound healing, whereas chronic systemic steroids may impair wound healing in susceptible individuals.

Keywords: Corticosteroids; Perioperative; Wound healing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / adverse effects
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Perioperative Period
  • Risk Factors
  • Tensile Strength
  • Wound Healing / drug effects*


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones