Dexamethasone is widely used for postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) prophylaxis, but its effect on PONV prevention in paediatric patients is validated only in short minor surgical procedures. In this study, we aimed to determine whether a single dose of dexamethasone reduces PONV in highly invasive surgeries that require opioid-based postoperative analgesia. One hundred adolescents undergoing scoliosis correction surgery were randomized to receive intravenous dexamethasone 0.15 mg/kg (dexamethasone group) or saline (control group) at induction of anaesthesia. The primary outcome was the incidence of PONV in the 72 h postoperatively. Data for 98 patients were available for analysis. The 72-h incidence of PONV was significantly lower in the dexamethasone group than in the control group (62.5% vs 84.0%; RR 0.74, 95% CI 0.58–0.96, P = 0.02). During the first and second 24-h postoperative intervals, fewer patients in the dexamethasone group received rescue antiemetics. Visual analogue scale scores for nausea and pain were lower in the dexamethasone group than in the control group during the first 24 h postoperatively. Dexamethasone did not increase the number of adverse events. The results of this study showed that a single dose of dexamethasone was effective for reducing PONV after paediatric scoliosis correction surgery.
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