Peri-operative steroids reduce pain, inflammatory response and hospitalisation length following knee arthroplasty without increased risk of acute complications: a meta-analysisPrevitali, D., Di Laura Frattura, G., Filardo, G. et al.
There is no consensus regarding the risks and benefits of peri-operative steroid supplementation in total knee arthroplasty (TKA). The aim of this meta-analysis is to compare TKA protocols implemented with or without steroids in terms of pain, inflammatory response, hospitalisation length, and complications.
A systematic literature search was performed on July 2019 in PubMed, Medline, Embase, Web of Science, Cochrane library, and the grey literature for a meta-analysis of RCTs comparing peri-operative analgesia protocols implemented with or without steroids. Sub-analyses considering the administration route, steroid type, and dosage were performed. The inverse variance method and the Mantel–Haenszel test were used for pooling continuous variables and for dichotomous variables, respectively. Risk of bias and quality of evidence were defined according to the Cochrane guidelines.
Twenty articles were included. Steroid supplementation provides significantly lower post-operative pain from day 1 to day 4 (p < 0.05), with less opioid consumption (p = 0.05), less nausea and vomiting (p < 0.05), and greater knee range of motion (p < 0.001), thus resulting in a shorter hospitalisation length (p = 0.01). Moreover, lower C-reactive protein (p < 0.05), and IL-6 (p < 0.05) levels, but a higher blood glucose level at day 1 (p = 0.004), were documented. No significant differences were documented in all the outcomes after 4 days of follow-up. These results were achieved without an increased incidence of complications. According to the results of the sub-analyses, the intravenous administration of 200 steroid equivalents of a long-acting steroid was associated with better results.
Steroid supplementation of peri-operative drug protocols is effective in decreasing post-operative pain, opioid consumption, nausea and vomiting, range of motion limitation, and inflammatory markers without increasing short- and mid-term complications. Although these benefits last only the peri-operative period, steroid supplementation can reduce the length of hospitalisation after TKA.
Level of evidence
Systematic review and meta-analysis, level II.