Postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) frequently occur after thyroidectomy. Previous studies have investigated the effects of preoperative dexamethasone for alleviating PONV in various cancers, but studies focused on papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) were limited. This study aimed to determine the efficacy of a single preoperative dose of dexamethasone to prevent PONV in patients with PTC.
This single-center, parallel-group, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial was conducted on patients with PTC in West China Hospital. Patients were randomized 1:1 into Group Dex (preoperative 8-mg dexamethasone) or Group Control (0.9% NaCl as control). The primary outcome was the incidence and severity of PONV. The secondary outcomes included postoperative pain, vocal dysfunction, and adverse events.
Six hundred participants were recruited and randomized. The total incidence of PONV was 33.3% (200 of 600 patients; 95% CI, 29.6–37.1). In the intention-to-treat analysis, PONV occurred in 81 of 300 patients (27.0%; 95% CI, 21.9–32.1) in Group Dex and in 119 of 300 patients (39.7%; 95% CI, 34.1–45.2) in Group Control (p = 0.001), and the absolute risk reduction was 12.7% (95% CI, 5.1–20.0). Patients in Group Dex reported fewer antiemetic requirements than those in Group Control (p = 0.004). Multivariate analysis indicated that dexamethasone administration (OR = 0.546; 95% CI, 0.383–0.777; p = 0.001) was associated with a reduced rate of PONV. Dexamethasone treatment also contributed to alleviating postoperative pain and improving subjective vocal dysfunction, with no increase in adverse events.
A single dose of dexamethasone is effective and safe for preventing PONV in PTC patients.