The efficacy of corticosteroids in postparotidectomy facial nerve paresis

Kimberly J. Lee, Willard E. Fee, David J. Terris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine whether the administration of perioperative corticosteroids is effective in ameliorating facial nerve paresis after parotidectomy. Study Design: Prospective, randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial at a university medical center. Methods: Patients scheduled for parotidectomy and who met inclusion criteria were invited to enroll in the protocol. They were stratified according to the anticipated surgery (superficial or total parotidectomy) and then received one of two doses of dexamethasone (0.51 or 1.41 mg/kg divided into three doses) or placebo solution immediately preoperatively and then every 8 hours for 16 hours postoperatively. The facial nerve was graded for proportion (percentage) of function at each of the four major regions (frontal, orbital, midface and upper lip, and lower lip). The early postoperative function and rate of return of function were compared among the treatment groups. Results: Forty-nine patients were enrolled and evaluated (18 in the control group, 16 receiving low-dose dexamethasone, and 15 receiving high-dose dexamethasone). No therapeutic advantage of dexamethasone treatment could be appreciated with respect to the degree of early postoperative nerve function (81.3% for control patients vs. 69.5% for dexamethasone-treated patients [P = .239]). Similarly, the median time to recovery of complete facial nerve function was 60 days in the control group and was 150 days in the dexamethasone-treated patients. Conclusions: Dexamethasone administration in patients undergoing parotidectomy is not justified. Despite the relatively modest risk profile of dexamethasone, we were unable to demonstrate any benefit in patients who were treated with either low-dose or high-dose steroids compared with placebo-treated patients in a randomized, controlled trial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1958-1963
Number of pages6
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2002


  • Corticosteroids
  • Dexamethasone
  • Facial nerve
  • Paresis
  • Parotidectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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