The Journal of Arthroplasty, Volume 35, Issue 3, 671 - 674

The Effect of Dexamethasone on Postoperative Blood Glucose in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Undergoing Total Joint Arthroplasty

Allen, Dexter C. et al.
Hip Knee


Perioperative glucocorticoids are routinely administered to patients undergoing total joint arthroplasty (TJA) to decrease postoperative pain and nausea. However, there is concern regarding the effects of glucocorticoids on perioperative glucose control in diabetes. The goal of this study is to determine if administration of preoperative dexamethasone to diabetic patients is significantly associated with hyperglycemia and increased insulin requirements in the immediate postoperative period after TJA and to identify risk factors for postoperative hyperglycemia immediately after TJA.


A retrospective review of type 2 diabetic patients undergoing TJA from 2010 to 2015 (n = 285) was undertaken to evaluate the effect of dexamethasone on postoperative glucose control. Preoperative baseline characteristics were compared between patients who did and did not receive 8 mg of intravenous dexamethasone preoperatively. Postoperative glucose and insulin requirements were evaluated with respect to dexamethasone dosing. Statistical analysis was performed using logistic regression models.


Dexamethasone administration did not correlate with the maximum postoperative blood glucose (P = .78). There was a significantly higher initial postoperative blood glucose after intravenous dexamethasone administration (P < .01). Dexamethasone administration was associated with increased aspart insulin requirements on postoperative day 0 (P = .04). However, preoperative hemoglobin A1c was most strongly associated with postoperative glucose control.


Preoperative dexamethasone administration to diabetic patients was associated with an initial increase in blood glucose and increased insulin requirement on postoperative day 0. Yet the observed effect on glucose control in diabetic patients may not outweigh the known clinical benefits of perioperative glucocorticoids.

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