JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW
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Prophylactic dexamethasone for rebound pain after peripheral nerve block in adult surgical patients: systematic review, meta-analysis, and trial sequential analysis of randomised controlled trials.

BACKGROUND: Rebound pain occurs after the resolution of peripheral nerve block and hampers patient recovery in the postoperative period. We sought to synthesise available data from randomised controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating the efficacy of prophylactic dexamethasone for rebound pain in adult patients undergoing surgery with a peripheral nerve block.

METHODS: In this systematic review and meta-analysis, RCTs reporting rebound pain and use of dexamethasone in the context of a peripheral nerve block were searched in various databases and updated in May 2023. The primary outcome was the incidence of rebound pain; secondary outcomes included the severity and time to onset of rebound pain, patient satisfaction with pain control, sleep disturbance because of pain, and adverse effects of dexamethasone. Subgroup analysis was conducted based on the effect of route of administration (intravenous or perineural) on the incidence of rebound pain. Trial sequential analysis was performed to rule out the possibility of a false positive result.

RESULTS: Seven RCTs comprising 574 patients were included in this review. The dexamethasone group was associated with a reduction in the incidence of rebound pain with an odds ratio of 0.16 (95% confidence interval 0.10-0.27, P=0.00, I2 =0%) compared with the control group. Trial sequential analysis confirmed the adequate information size for the beneficial effect of dexamethasone. Subgroup analysis showed that both intravenous and perineural administration were associated with a significant reduction in the incidence of rebound pain.

CONCLUSIONS: Current evidence suggests that both intravenous and perineural dexamethasone reduce the incidence of rebound pain after a peripheral nerve block provided for postoperative analgesia.

SYSTEMATIC REVIEW PROTOCOL: PROSPERO CRD42023424031.

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