Two doses of low-dose perioperative dexamethasone improve the clinical outcome after total knee arthroplasty: a randomized controlled study

  • Bin Xu
  • Jun Ma
  • Qiang Huang
  • Ze-yu Huang
  • Shao-yun Zhang
  • Fu-xing Pei



To study the clinical effect and safety of two doses of low-dose perioperative dexamethasone on pain and recovery after total knee arthroplasty.

Methods A total of 108 patients were included in this randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study. They received two doses of 10 mg IV dexamethasone (group Dexa) or IV isotonic saline (group Placebo). The CRP, IL-6 and pain levels, postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) incidence, nausea severity, postoperative fatigue, range of motion, length of stay, analgesic rescue and antiemetic rescue consumption, and complications were compared.

Results The CRP and IL-6 levels in group Dexa were lower than in group Placebo at 24, 48, and 72 h postoperatively (P < 0.001, P < 0.001, and P < 0.001, respectively). In group Dexa, patients had less pain at 24 h postoperatively, at rest (P < 0.001) and during walking (P < 0.001); they also had a lower PONV incidence (P = 0.002) and a lower nausea VAS score (P = 0.008). Postoperative fatigue (P < 0.001) was relieved and the analgesic and antiemetic rescue consumption was reduced. Length of stay (n.s.) and range of motion (n.s.) were similar in both groups. No early surgical wound infection or gastrointestinal haemorrhage occurred in either group.

Conclusions Administering two doses of low-dose perioperative dexamethasone for patients receiving total knee arthroplasty reduces postoperative CRP and IL-6 levels, provides additional analgesic effect, and reduces the PONV incidence and postoperative fatigue, without increasing the risk of early surgical wound infection and gastrointestinal haemorrhage. So two doses of low-dose perioperative dexamethasone are effective and safe for patients receiving TKA to decrease the inflammatory response, prevent PONV, relieve postoperative pain and fatigue, and enhance recovery.

Level of evidence I.


Dexamethasone Total knee arthroplasty Clinical effect Randomized controlled study 



The study was supported by Ministry of Health of the People’s Republic of China (201302007).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

The study protocol was approved by the Institutional Review Board of West China Medical Center of Sichuan University (No. 201302007) before patient enrolment.


This study was funded by Ministry of Health of the People’s Republic of China (no. 201302007).

Informed consent

Written informed consent and research authorization were obtained from all patients.


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Copyright information

© European Society of Sports Traumatology, Knee Surgery, Arthroscopy (ESSKA) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bin Xu
    • 1
  • Jun Ma
    • 1
  • Qiang Huang
    • 1
  • Ze-yu Huang
    • 1
  • Shao-yun Zhang
    • 1
  • Fu-xing Pei
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Orthopaedics, West China HospitalSichuan UniversityChengduPeople’s Republic of China

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