A prospective, randomized, noninferiority trial of steroid dosing after major colorectal surgery

Ann Surg. 2014 Jan;259(1):32-7. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e318297adca.


Objective: To evaluate the safety of perioperative low-dose steroids (LDS) versus high-dose steroids (HDS) in steroid-treated patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) undergoing major colorectal surgery.

Background: Corticosteroid-treated patients undergoing major colorectal surgery are commonly prescribed HDS to prevent perioperative adrenal insufficiency and cardiovascular collapse. There is little evidence to support this practice.

Methods: We performed a single-blinded noninferiority trial to compare perioperative hemodynamic instability in 92 steroid-treated IBD patients undergoing major colorectal surgery. Patients were randomly assigned to receive perioperative high-dose corticosteroids (HDS; hydrocortisone, 100 mg, intravenously 3 times daily, followed by taper) or low-dose corticosteroids (LDS; intravenous hydrocortisone equivalent to presurgical oral dosing, followed by taper). The primary outcome was the absence of postural hypotension on postoperative day 1, defined as a decrease in systolic blood pressure by 20 mm Hg after sitting from a supine position.

Results: The primary outcome, absence of postural hypotension on postoperative day 1, occurred in 95% of those randomized to receive high doses of corticosteroids compared with 96% of those who received low doses (noninferiority 95% confidence interval=-0.08 to 0.09; P=0.007).

Conclusions: In IBD patients undergoing abdominal surgery, the incidence of postural hypotension or adrenal insufficiency is similar among those receiving high doses or low doses of corticosteroids in the perioperative period. To reduce complications associated with unnecessarily high doses of steroids, steroid-treated IBD patients undergoing major colorectal surgery should be treated with low doses of steroids in the perioperative period. (Clinicaltrials.gov ID# NCT01559675).

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenal Insufficiency / prevention & control
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / administration & dosage*
  • Hypotension, Orthostatic / prevention & control
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / surgery*
  • Intestines / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Young Adult


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Hydrocortisone

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01559675