The effect of perioperative dexamethasone dosing on post-tonsillectomy hemorrhage risk

Yin Yiu, Tyler B. Merrill, Charles A. Elmaraghy, Justin B. Mahida, Jennifer N. Cooper, Nicole M. Elsey, Joseph D. Tobias, Katherine J. Deans, Peter C. Minneci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objectives Dexamethasone is currently recommended for routine prophylaxis against postoperative nausea and vomiting after tonsillectomy procedures. However, some studies have raised concern that dexamethasone use may lead to higher rates of post-tonsillectomy hemorrhage. Our objective was to determine whether higher doses of dexamethasone administered perioperatively during tonsillectomy procedures are associated with an increased risk of secondary post-tonsillectomy hemorrhage. Methods We conducted a retrospective review of 9843 patients who underwent tonsillectomy and received dexamethasone at our institution from January 2010 to October 2014. We compared the dose of dexamethasone administered to patients who did and did not develop secondary post-tonsillectomy hemorrhage using Mann Whitney U tests. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to evaluate the association between dexamethasone dose and post-tonsillectomy hemorrhage after adjustment for demographic and clinical characteristics. Results A total of 280 (2.8%) patients developed secondary post-tonsillectomy hemorrhage. Patients who developed hemorrhage tended to be older (median (interquartile range) 7 (4–11) vs. 5 (3–8) years), p < 0.001) and had undergone tonsillectomy more often for chronic tonsillitis but less often for tonsillar or adenotonsillar hypertrophy or sleep disturbances. Dexamethasone dose was significantly lower on average in patients who experienced secondary post-tonsillectomy hemorrhage (median (interquartile range) 0.19 (0.14, 0.23) mg/kg vs. 0.21 (0.17, 0.30), p < 0.001). Multivariable modeling demonstrated that the dose of dexamethasone was not significantly associated with post-tonsillectomy hemorrhage after adjustment for age. Conclusions There does not appear to be a dose-related increase in the risk of post-tonsillectomy hemorrhage for patients receiving dexamethasone during tonsillectomy procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-24
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017


  • Perioperative steroids
  • Post-tonsillectomy hemorrhage
  • Tonsillectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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