The Impact of Prophylactic Dexamethasone on Nausea and Vomiting After Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy Academic Article uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVE: To determine the impact of prophylactic corticosteroid administration on postoperative nausea, vomiting, pain and complications in patients undergoing laparoscopic cholecystectomy. DATA SOURCES: We searched 4 bibliographic databases, conference proceedings, reference lists of articles and textbooks, and contacted experts in the field of anesthesia and hepatobiliary surgery. REVIEW METHODS: We evaluated the methodologic quality of trials and extracted data regarding baseline characteristics, interventions, and outcomes. We pooled results from the studies using a random-effects model, evaluated the degree of heterogeneity, and explored potential explanations for heterogeneity. RESULTS: Seventeen trials met eligibility criteria and provided high quality evidence regarding steroid effectiveness. Irrespective of the co-interventions (other antiemetic medications), dexamethasone reduced the incidence of nausea (RR 0.59, 95% CI, 0.48-0.72), vomiting (RR 0.41, 95% CI, 0.30-0.55), and postoperative nausea or vomiting (RR 0.55, 95% CI, 0.44-0.67) relative to placebo. Dexamethasone also seemed to reduce the severity of postoperative pain (Ratio of Means 0.87, 95% CI, 0.78-0.98), although substantial unexplained heterogeneity was present (I 90.4%). The incidence of headache and dizziness was similar between groups. CONCLUSIONS: Prophylactic dexamethasone decreases the incidence of nausea and vomiting after LC relative to placebo and may decrease the severity of postoperative pain. Dexamethasone does not increase the incidence of headaches or dizziness. Surgeons should consider administering prophylactic corticosteroids to patients undergoing laparoscopic cholecystectomy, particularly those at high risk of postoperative nausea and vomiting.


  • Karanicolas, Paul J
  • Smith, Shona E
  • Kanbur, Bilge
  • Davies, Edward
  • Guyatt, Gordon

publication date

  • November 2008