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February 1996

The Effect of Intravenous Dexamethasone in Pediatric Adenotonsillectomy

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, Division of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery (Dr April and Ms Callan), and the Department of Anesthesia (Ms Nowak and Dr Hausdorff), University Medical Center, State University of New York at Stony Brook. Dr April is now with the Department of Otolaryngology, Lennox Hill Hospital, New York, NY.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1996;122(2):117-120. doi:10.1001/archotol.1996.01890140007003

Objective:  To determine whether the intravenous administration of dexamethasone sodium phosphate before tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy can reduce the morbidity from, and increase the safety of, this procedure.

Design:  Prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebocontrolled clinical trial.

Setting:  A university medical center, caring for both ambulatory and hospitalized children.

Patients:  Eighty children aged 3 to 15 years undergoing tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy for either chronic tonsillitis or adenotonsillar hypertrophy (obstructive sleep apnea and/or upper airway obstruction).

Interventions:  Forty-one children received intravenous dexamethasone sodium phosphate (1 mg/kg up to 16 mg) and 39 received placebo before undergoing an electrocautery dissection tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy.

Main Outcome Measures:  Postoperative oral intake, pain, vomiting, temperature, and complications.

Results:  Patients who received intravenous dexamethasone had significantly less trismus, vomiting, and elevations of temperature 6 hours after surgery and more oral intake (liquids and soft solids) at 24 hours. Three children, all of whom were in the placebo group, had emergency department visits for pain and dehydration. Each group had one child who had a secondary hemorrhage (no surgery needed), one child who had pneumonia, and one child who had night terrors.

Conclusions:  Treatment with intravenous dexamethasone before electrocautery tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy is safe, increases early postoperative oral intake, and decreases morbidity.(Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1996;122:117-120)

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