Dexamethasone and persistent wound pain: a prespecified analysis of the randomised Perioperative Administration of Dexamethasone and Infection (PADDI) trial

Tomás B. Corcoran, Catherine Martin, Edmond O'Loughlin, Kwok Ho, Matthew Chan, Andrew Forbes, Kate Leslie, Paul Myles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Dexamethasone is commonly administered intraoperatively to prevent postoperative nausea and vomiting and is believed to have analgesic properties. It is unknown whether it has an impact on chronic wound pain. Methods: In this prespecified embedded superiority substudy of the randomised PADDI trial, patients undergoing non-urgent noncardiac surgery received dexamethasone 8 mg or placebo intravenously after induction of anaesthesia, and were followed up for 6 months postoperatively. The primary outcome was the incidence of pain in the surgical wound at 6 months. Secondary outcomes included acute postoperative pain and correlates of chronic postsurgical pain. Results: We included 8478 participants in the modified intention-to-treat population (4258 in the dexamethasone group and 4220 in the matched placebo group). The primary outcome occurred in 491 subjects (11.5%) in the dexamethasone arm and 404 (9.6%) subjects in the placebo arm (relative risk 1.2, 95% confidence interval 1.06–1.41, P=0.003). Maximum pain scores at rest and on movement in the first 3 postoperative days were lower in the dexamethasone group compared with the control group {median 5 (inter-quartile range [IQR] 3.0–8.0) vs 6 (IQR 3.0–8.0) and median 7 (IQR 5.0–9.0) vs 8 (IQR 6.0–9.0), P<0.001 for both}. Severity of postoperative pain was not predictive of chronic postsurgical pain. The severity of chronic postsurgical pain and the frequency of neuropathic features did not differ between treatment groups. Conclusion: Administration of dexamethasone 8 mg i.v. was associated with an increase in the risk of pain in the surgical wound 6 months after surgery. Clinical trial registration: ACTRN12614001226695.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-103
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Journal of Anaesthesia
Volume131
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023

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