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The Effects of Chronic Steroid Use on Postoperative Complications Following Thyroidectomy



Patients undergoing thyroidectomy are sometimes on chronic steroids for underlying disease. This study examined the postoperative risk profile of thyroidectomy patients on chronic steroids.


Patients in the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) database who underwent thyroidectomy were sorted by presence or absence of chronic steroid use. Clinicodemographics, comorbidities, and postoperative complications were recorded and compared between the two. Univariate and multivariate analyses compared the groups and calculated odds ratios (OR).


We identified 42,857 patients. 41,903 (97.8%) patients were not on chronic steroids, while 954 (2.2%) were. Most underwent total thyroidectomy (18,748, 43.75%) or total lobectomy (16,323, 38.09%). Following univariate and multivariate analyses, patients on chronic steroids had increased risk of postoperative bleeding and transfusions (OR = 0.375, p = 0.046, 95% CI 0.223–0.988), open wound infection (OR = 0.226, p < 0.001, 95% CI 0.117–0.437), pulmonary embolism (OR = 0.312, p = 0.034, 95% CI 0.106–0.918), and ventilator use > 48 h (OR = 0.401, p < 0.008, 95% CI 0.205–0.785).


Chronic steroid use prior to thyroidectomy is an independent risk factor for multiple postoperative complications, namely postoperative bleeding and transfusions, open wound infection, pulmonary embolism, and ventilator use over 48 h. Patients on chronic steroids should be medically optimized before thyroidectomy to reduce the risk of potentially life-threatening complications.

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Correspondence to Elizabeth S. Koh.

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Koh, E.S., Chen, F.R., Chen, S. et al. The Effects of Chronic Steroid Use on Postoperative Complications Following Thyroidectomy. World J Surg 47, 995–1002 (2023).

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