HealthDay News — A single preoperative dose of dexamethasone reduces rates of postoperative hypocalcemia and voice dysfunction in patients undergoing thyroidectomy, according to a study published online September 2 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Adeel Abbas Dhahri, from the Royal Infirmary Hospital of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, and colleagues randomly assigned 192 patients who were undergoing thyroidectomy to a single preoperative intravenous dose of either dexamethasone or normal saline (96 patients in each group). Postoperative rates of hypocalcemia and voice dysfunction were the primary outcomes.

The researchers found that in the first 24 hours after thyroidectomy, 24.4% of patients developed hypocalcemia and 9.4% were symptomatic. At 3 days postthyroidectomy, hypocalcemia was seen in four of 96 patients in the placebo group and none in the dexamethasone group. At 24 hours postthyroidectomy, 8.3% of dexamethasone patients had voice dysfunction versus 33.3% in the placebo group.

“This randomized clinical trial demonstrated that a single 8mg dose of dexamethasone during the preoperative period was safe and effective in improving transient, immediate postoperative hypocalcemia as well as temporary voice dysfunction in patients undergoing thyroidectomy,” the authors write.

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