Perioperative Dexamethasone and the Development of Chronic Postmastectomy Pain: A Single-Center Observational Cohort Study

Gildasio S. De Oliveira*, Jane M. Bialek, Alparslan Turan, Robert J. McCarthy, Daniel I. Sessler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background and Objectives: Perioperative modulation of the surgical inflammatory response has been hypothesized as a viable pharmacological preventive target for the development of chronic pain after surgery. The objective of the current investigation was to evaluate an association between intravenous dexamethasone 4 to 20 mg on the day of surgery with self-reported pain in the breast or axilla 3 months or more after mastectomy. Methods: The study was a secondary data analysis of a prospective cohort investigation. Subjects who have undergone mastectomy surgery were evaluated at least 3 months after the surgical procedure for the presence of chronic postsurgical pain using validated pain questionnaires. Binary logistic regression analysiswas used to determine the odds of development of chronic postsurgical pain in subjects who did and did not receive perioperative dexamethasone. Results: Three hundred ten patients were included in the study. Fiftytwo patients (17%) met the IMMPACT (Initiative on Methods, Measurement, and Pain Assessment in Clinical Trials) criteria for chronic pain in the breast and/or axillary region. Two hundred eleven (68%) of 310 subjects received perioperative dexamethasone on doses varying from 4 to 20 mg. The incidence of chronic pain in the mastectomy group who received perioperative dexamethasone was not different, 15 (15.2%) of 84 compared with 37 (17.5%) of 211 in the group who did not receive perioperative dexamethasone, difference-2% (95% confidence interval,-10 to 7; P = 0.75). Conclusions: Perioperative dexamethasone is not associated with a reduction in the incidence and/or severity of chronic postmastectomy pain. In addition, we did not detect a dose-response effect of dexamethasone on the incidence of chronic postsurgical pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)539-544
Number of pages6
JournalRegional anesthesia and pain medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 3 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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