Oral Dexamethasone Following Total Knee Arthroplasty: A Double-Blind, Randomized Controlled Trial

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

J arthroplasty


BACKGROUND: Intravenous dexamethasone has been shown to reduce pain in total joint arthroplasty. This double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial investigated the postoperative effects and safety of oral dexamethasone as a potential augment to multimodal pain management in outpatient knee arthroplasty.

METHODS: The authors prospectively randomized 109 consecutive patients undergoing primary total knee arthroplasty. Patients were assigned to Group A (57 patients) received 4 mg of dexamethasone by mouth twice per day starting postoperative day (POD) one for four days and Group B received placebo capsules. All healthcare professionals and patients were blinded to group allocation. The primary outcome was defined as postoperative pain scores. Secondary outcomes included 90-day postoperative complications, nausea and vomiting, daily opioid usage, assistance for ambulation, difficulty sleeping, and early patient reported outcomes. Demographics were similar between groups.

RESULTS: The patients who received dexamethasone had statistically significant decrease in VAS scores when averaging POD 1 to 4 (P=0.01). The average VAS scores among individual days were significantly lower with dexamethasone on POD 2, 3, and 4. While taking dexamethasone, morning and mid-day VAS scores were significantly lower. There was no difference between the groups with opioid use, nausea or vomiting, 90-day complications, ability to walk with/without assistance, difficulty sleeping, and early patient reported outcomes.

CONCLUSION: This double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial demonstrated that oral dexamethasone following primary total knee arthroplasty can reduce postoperative pain. This may be a beneficial option in ambulatory surgery where intravenous limitations exist, but larger series are needed to further evaluate the safety profile in this population.

PubMed ID



ePub ahead of print