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Analgesic effect of a single dose of betamethasone after ambulatory knee arthroscopy: a randomized controlled trial

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Glucocorticoids are reported to improve postoperative analgesia. The purpose of the study was to investigate whether a preoperative, single dose of betamethasone could reduce pain after ambulatory arthroscopic knee surgery.


This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial including patients scheduled for knee arthroscopy. The intervention was an intravenous injection of betamethasone 8 mg or placebo. The primary outcome was pain day 1 evaluated by a verbal descriptor scale (VDS).


In total, 74 patients (betamethasone = 34; placebo = 40) were randomized. One patient in each group was excluded from analysis. During activity day 1 following surgery, the proportion with no or minor pain was significantly (p = 0.030) higher in the betamethasone group (22 of 33; 67 %) compared with the placebo group (17 of 39; 44 %). At rest, the corresponding figures were 26 of 33 (79 %) for betamethasone and 24 of 39 (62 %) for placebo (p = 0.062). After 3 months of follow-up, no patient receiving betamethasone experienced adverse events while six receiving placebo did (postoperative nausea and vomiting in five and delayed wound healing in one).


An analgesic benefit was seen day 1 following surgery. This indicates that betamethasone has a place in ambulatory arthroscopic knee surgery.

Trial registration (identifier 2009-014717-27).

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Financial support was provided through the Regional Agreement on Medical Training and Clinical Research (ALF) between the Stockholm Community Council and Karolinska Institutet and by the Bengt Ihre Foundation. The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Jerker Segelman.

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Segelman, J., Pettersson, H.J., Svensén, C. et al. Analgesic effect of a single dose of betamethasone after ambulatory knee arthroscopy: a randomized controlled trial. J Anesth 30, 803–810 (2016).

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