Clinical Research

Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research®

, Volume 471, Issue 9, pp 3010-3020

First online:

Preemptive Low-dose Dexamethasone Reduces Postoperative Emesis and Pain After TKA: A Randomized Controlled Study

  • In Jun KohAffiliated withDepartment of Orthopaedic Surgery, Uijeongbu St. Mary’s HospitalDepartment of Orthopaedic Surgery, Catholic University of Korea College of Medicine
  • , Chong Bum ChangAffiliated withJoint Reconstruction Center, Seoul National University Bundang HospitalDepartment of Orthopaedic Surgery, Seoul National University College of Medicine
  • , Jung Ha LeeAffiliated withJoint Reconstruction Center, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital
  • , Young-Tae JeonAffiliated withDepartment of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, Seoul National University Bundang, Hospital
  • , Tae Kyun KimAffiliated withJoint Reconstruction Center, Seoul National University Bundang HospitalDepartment of Orthopaedic Surgery, Seoul National University College of Medicine Email author 

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Dexamethasone is a potent analgesic and antiemetic. However, the benefit of dexamethasone after TKA is unclear, as is the efficacy in a current multimodal regime.


We determined (1) whether the addition of dexamethasone to a protocol including ramosetron further reduces postoperative emesis compared with ramosetron alone; (2) whether it reduces postoperative pain; and (3) whether it increases the risk for wound complications in a current multimodal regime after TKA.


We randomized 269 patients undergoing TKAs to receive dexamethasone (10 mg) 1 hour before surgery and ramosetron immediately after surgery (Dexa-Ra group, n = 135), or ramosetron alone (Ra group, n = 134). We recorded the incidence of postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV), severity of nausea, incidence of antiemetic requirement, complete response, pain level, and opioid consumption. Patients were assessed 0 to 6, 6 to 24, 24 to 48, and 48 to 72 hours postoperatively. In addition, patients were evaluated for wound complications and periprosthetic joint infections at a minimum of 1 year after surgery.


The Dexa-Ra group had a lower incidence of PONV during the entire 72-hour evaluation period and experienced less severe nausea for the first 6 hours after TKA, although not between 6 to 72 hours. Overall use of a rescue antiemetic was less frequent, and complete response was more frequent in the Dexa-Ra group. Patients in the Dexa-Ra group experienced lower pain and consumed less opioids during the 6- to 24-hour period and during the overall study period. No differences were found in wound complications between the groups, and each group had one case of periprosthetic joint infection.


Patients who received prophylactic dexamethasone in addition to ramosetron had reduced postoperative emesis and pain without increased risks for wound complications, compared with patients who received ramosetron alone in patients managed using a multimodal regimen after TKA.

Level of Evidence

Level I, therapeutic study. See the Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.