A survey of antiemetic dexamethasone administration-frequency of use and perceptions of benefits and risks

T. B. Corcoran, T. Edwards

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Postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) is a significant concern for anaesthetists. There are many agents from different classes that are effective in both preventing and treating PONV. Dexamethasone is a very effective antiemetic, but there are concerns regarding its safety. We performed an anonymous survey of a random selection of the fellows of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists to ascertain patterns of practice in relation to PONV prophylaxis and treatment and also to determine awareness of the risks and benefits of perioperative dexamethasone administration. The response rate was 33%. From the responses, 71.2% of all patients undergoing general anaesthesia in the respondents' institutions receive PONV prophylaxis in total and 46.6% receive dexamethasone. No respondent gives more than a single dose of dexamethasone and there was an almost equal split between those who administer 4 and 8 mg, with a smaller number dosing on a weight basis. 5HT-3 receptor antagonists and dexamethasone are the preferred first-line PONV prophylactic agents and 5HT-3 receptor antagonists and droperidol are the preferred first-line PONV therapeutic agents. Concerns relating to the safety of dexamethasone were expressed by 80% of respondents. From this survey, we concluded that the PONV practice of the respondents is largely compliant with recent consensus guidelines, although PONV prophylaxis appears to be given more routinely. It also appears that more education is required on issues regarding dexamethasone safety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-174
Number of pages8
JournalAnaesthesia and Intensive Care
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Antiemetics
  • Dexamethasone
  • Postoperative nausea and vomiting
  • Risk

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