Summary In children undergoing tonsillectomy, dexamethasone is recommended to reduce the risk of postoperative nausea and vomiting while non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used for pain relief. We aimed to determine whether children who receive dexamethasone or dexamethasone with NSAID are more likely to experience haemorrhage post-tonsillectomy. Randomized and non-randomized studies in which children undergoing tonsillectomy received dexamethasone or dexamethasone and NSAID were sought within bibliographic databases and selected tertiary sources. The risk of bias assessment and evaluation of haemorrhage rate data collection and reporting were assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool and McHarm tool. Synthesis methods comprised pooled estimate of the effect of dexamethasone on the risk of haemorrhage rate using the Peto odds ratio (OR) method. The pooled estimate for haemorrhage rate in children who received dexamethasone was 6.2%, OR 1.41 (95% confidence interval 0.89-2.25, P=0.15). There was risk of bias and inconsistent data collection and reporting rates of haemorrhage in many of the included studies. Clinical heterogeneity was observed between studies. The pooled analysis did not demonstrate a statistically significant increase in the risk of post-tonsillectomy haemorrhage with dexamethasone with/without NSAID use in children. However, the majority of the included studies were not designed to investigate this endpoint, and thus large studies which are specifically designed to collect data on haemorrhage rate are needed.
Keywords: dexamethasone; paediatrics; tonsillectomy.
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