Prophylactic Administration of Corticosteroids for Preventing Postoperative Complications Related to Tracheal Intubation: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of 18 Randomized Controlled Trials

Wenyu Zhang, Guoqing Zhao, Longyun Li, Pengcheng Zhao
Clinical Drug Investigation 2016, 36 (4): 255-65

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Sore throat, cough, and hoarseness are the common and severe complications after general anesthesia with tracheal intubation. The efficacy of prophylactic administration of corticosteroids in reducing the incidence of postoperative complications is controversial. Thus, we conducted a meta-analysis to assess the effects of corticosteroids in the prevention of postoperative complications.

METHODS: A comprehensive literature search of Pubmed, Embase, and Web of Science was conducted to identify relative trials. Eligible studies were randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that assessed the effect of corticosteroids for preventing postoperative complications. The outcomes included the prevalence of postoperative sore throat, cough, hoarseness, laryngeal edema, and reintubation. A random-effects or fixed-effects model was used to pool the estimates, according to the heterogeneity among the included studies.

RESULTS: Eighteen RCTs with a total of 2685 patients were included in this meta-analysis. Pooled estimates showed that corticosteroids significantly reduced the incidence of postoperative sore throat, hoarseness, and cough. Moreover, corticosteroids had a positive effect on the incidence of laryngeal edema and reintubation. Subgroup analysis showed that corticosteroids significantly decreased the incidence of severe sore throat and hoarseness, but not cough.

CONCLUSION: Evidence from this meta-analysis of 18 RCTs indicated that prophylactic administration of corticosteroids is not only effective in reducing the incidence and severity of postoperative sore throat and hoarseness, but also the incidence of laryngeal edema and reintubation.

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