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Effect of dexamethasone on postoperative morbidity after dental rehabilitation in children.

Author(s): McIntyre RE, Hardcastle C, Eng RL, Nettel-Aguirre A, Urmson K, Lardner DR, Livingstone M, Ewen A, Cox RG

Affiliation(s): Department of Anesthesiology, University of Calgary @ Alberta Children's Hospital, 2888 Shaganappi Trail N.W., Calgary, AB, T3B 6A8, Canada.

Publication date & source: 2011-10-29, Can J Anaesth., [Epub ahead of print]

PURPOSE: Dexamethasone reduces postoperative morbidity after adenotonsillectomy, strabismus surgery, and third molar extraction. Our hypothesis was that dexamethasone would reduce pain and other morbidity in children undergoing dental surgery for up to 24 hr postoperatively. METHODS: A triple-blinded, randomized, controlled trial was carried out on 200 children undergoing prolonged dental rehabilitation under general anesthesia. Subjects were randomized into two groups: group D, given dexamethasone 0.3 mg.kg(-1); group S, given normal saline. The primary outcome measure was pain over 24 hr as evaluated by a parental 0-10 numerical rating scale (NRS). Key secondary outcomes included oral intake on a four-point scale at 24 hr and the overall incidence of postoperative vomiting (POV). Analysis for the primary outcome consisted of comparison of means in the NRS with the Wilcoxon rank sum test and for occurrence of POV with Fisher's test. RESULTS: After eliminating 22 subjects for protocol violations and withdrawals, 178 subjects were analyzed. There was no significant difference in pain scores (NRS) at 24 hr or the worst NRS experienced over the preceding 24 hr. There was no difference in the quality of oral intake between the groups. There was a significant difference in the percentage of patients who vomited during the first 24 hr: eight of 91 in group S and one of 87 in group D. Therefore, 7.74% more vomited in group S (P = 0.045), with a 95% confidence interval of 0.32 to15.16 for the difference in percentages. CONCLUSIONS: Dexamethasone, 0.3 mg.kg(-1), did not reduce pain over 24 hr in healthy children undergoing dental rehabilitation under general anesthesia. The quality of oral intake was also unaffected by dexamethasone at 24 hr. Dexamethasone did produce a significant reduction in postdischarge vomiting, beyond the incidence found with ondansetron alone.

Page last updated: 2011-12-09

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