The Journal of Arthroplasty , Volume 33 , Issue 10 , 3252 - 3256

Intraoperative Dexamethasone Reduces Readmission Rates Without Affecting Risk of Thromboembolic Events or Infection After Total Joint Arthroplasty

Klement, Mitchell R. et al.
Hip Knee


The use of perioperative dexamethasone has been proven to reduce pain and shorten recovery for patients undergoing total hip and knee arthroplasty. However, the effect of these medications on 90-day readmissions and the rates of clinically significant venous thromboembolic events (VTE) after total joint arthroplasty (TJA) remains unknown.


Patients undergoing unilateral, primary total joint arthroplasty between 2009 and 2016 in a single institution were identified. There were 6617 patients who did not receive dexamethasone intraoperatively compared to 1293 patients who received a single, intraoperative, intravenous dose of dexamethasone (8-10 mg). The primary outcomes were the rate of clinically significant VTE and 90-day readmission. Secondary outcomes included wound complications, periprosthetic joint infection, and 90-day mortality.


While the overall rate of clinically symptomatic VTE was lower in the dexamethasone group, this did not reach significance in a univariate analysis (0.1% vs 0.2%, P = .353). Only body mass index (odds ratio [OR], 1.13; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03-1.24; P = .006) and longer length of stay (OR, 1.16; 95% CI, 1.06-1.28; P = .001) were associated with VTE in the multivariate analysis (OR, 0.31; 95% CI, 0.04-2.36; P = .319). However, the use of intravenous dexamethasone was independently associated with a reduction in 90-day readmission rate (1.6% vs 2.5%; OR, 0.57; 95% CI, 0.36-0.90; P = .016). There was no difference in the rate of periprosthetic joint infection or mortality.


A single, intraoperative, low dose of dexamethasone is not associated with a reduction in clinically significant VTE but may be a safe and effective adjunct medication to lower 90-day readmission rates.

Level of Evidence

Level III.

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