Aim: To determine the effect of dexamethasone in reducing post-dural puncture headache(PDPH) after spinal anesthesia for cesarean section (CS).
Methods: A double blind placebo controlled randomized trial of parturients undergoing CS under spinal anesthesia was conducted. Participants (n = 192) were randomly (1:1 ratio) given either 2mls (8 mg) of dexamethasone (n= 96) intravenously or 2mls of normal saline (n = 96) intravenously as placebo after clamping the umbilical cord. Visual analogue scale was used to assess the incidence and severity of PDPH on the first and fourth post-operative days. The primary outcome measure was incidence of PDPH while the secondary outcome measure was incidence of nausea and vomiting. Analysis was by intention-to-treat.
Results: Baseline socio-demographic and clinical variables were similar between the two groups and none of the women was lost to follow up. The incidence of PDPH (8.3% vs 25.0%; p =0.002) and nausea (11.5% vs 25.0%; p =0.015) were significantly lower in dexamethasone group. The severity of headache in the control groups were statistically higher on the first (p < 0.001) and fourth (p < 0.001) post-operative days.
Conclusion: Prophylactic dexamethasone reduces the incidence and severity of PDPH on both the first and fourth post-operative day after spinal anesthesia for CS. There was also an improvement on the incidence of nausea on the dexamethasone group compared to control.