To determine whether corticosteroids are effective in preventing or treating postextubation stridor and in reducing the need for subsequent reintubation of the trachea in critically ill infants and children.
Meta-analysis of published randomized controlled trials.
References of each trial from a MEDLINE search were reviewed, and experts in the field were contacted.
Any randomized controlled trial comparing the administration of corticosteroids with placebo on the prevalence of reintubation or postextubation stridor in infants or children receiving mechanical ventilation via an endotracheal tube in an intensive care unit.
Data extraction and methodologic quality assessment were assessed independently by two reviewers.
Six controlled clinical trials met the criteria for inclusion; three trials pertain to neonates and three to children. Five trials examined the use of steroids for the prevention of reintubation (four of these evaluated postextubation stridor specifically); one trial examined the use of steroids to treat existing postextubation stridor in children. There was a nonsignificant trend toward a decreased rate of reintubation in all subjects when prophylactic steroids were used (n = 376, relative risk [RR] = 0.34, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.05–2.33). Prophylactic use of steroids reduced postextubation stridor in the pooled studies (n = 325, RR = 0.50, 95% CI = 0.28–0.88). In young children, there were significant reductions of postextubation stridor with preventive treatment (n = 216, RR = 0.53, 95% CI = 0.28–0.97), and a trend toward less stridor was observed in neonates (n = 109, RR = 0.42, 95% CI = 0.07–2.32). There was a nonsignificant trend toward a reduced reintubation rate when steroids were used to treat existing upper airway obstruction requiring reintubation (RR = 0.55, 95% CI = 0.17–1.78). Side effects were seldom reported and could not be evaluated.
Prophylactic administration of dexamethasone before elective extubation reduces the prevalence of postextubation stridor in neonates and children and may reduce the rate of reintubation.