The Impact of Prophylactic Dexamethasone on Postoperative Sore Throat: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

J Pain Res. 2018 Oct 18;11:2463-2475. doi: 10.2147/JPR.S172419. eCollection 2018.


Background/aims: An updated systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted to assess the effect of prophylactic dexamethasone for tracheal intubation of general anesthesia on postoperative sore throat (POST).

Methods: Comprehensive literature search of databases for randomized controlled trials (RCTs), including Embase, PubMed, and Cochrane Library, which evaluate the effect of prophylactic dexamethasone on POST was conducted. RevMan 5.0 and STATA 12.0 software were used to perform meta-analyses.

Results: Fourteen RCTs totaling 1,837 patients were included for analysis. Compared with placebo, a significant reduction in the incidence of POST (OR 0.44, 95% CI 0.33-0.58, P<0.00001), hoarseness (OR 0.42, 95% CI 0.31-0.58, P<0.00001), and postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) (OR 0.06, 95% CI 0.03-0.14, P<0.00001) and a comparable incidence of cough (OR 0.59, 95% CI 0.19-1.89, P=0.38) was described in patients receiving dexamethasone, with or without concomitant drugs. Dexamethasone ≥0.2 mg/kg had a statistically greater impact on reducing the incidence of POST than dexamethasone 0.1-0.2 mg/kg, while dexamethasone ≤0.1 mg/kg did not. Dexamethasone was as effective as other drugs such as ondansetron, magnesium sulfate, ketamine gargle, betamethasone gel, and ketorolac for reducing POST (OR 0.70, 95% CI 0.46-1.07, P=0.10). Dexamethasone plus a different drug was more effective than dexamethasone alone for reducing the incidence of POST at 24 hours (OR 0.40, 95% CI 0.21-0.77, P=0.006). Compared with controls, a statistically higher blood glucose level was the only adverse event during the immediate postoperative period in patients receiving dexamethasone.

Conclusions: Intravenous dexamethasone ≥0.2 mg/kg within 30 minutes before or after induction of general anesthesia should be recommended as grade 1A evidence with safety and efficacy in reducing the incidence of POST, hoarseness, and PONV in patients without pregnancy, diabetes mellitus, or contraindications for corticosteroids.

Keywords: corticosteroids; dexamethasone; meta-analysis; postoperative sore throat; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Review