Background: Postoperative sore throat (POST) is a frequent complication of tracheal intubation, particularly after surgery in the prone position. We designed this study to validate the non-inferiority of magnesium sulphate against dexamethasone for prevention of POST after lumbar spinal surgery. Methods: One hundred and forty-six patients were randomly allocated to receive either magnesium or dexamethasone. Before anesthetic induction, the magnesium group (n = 73) received magnesium sulphate 30 mg/kg followed by 10 mg/kg/h by continuous infusion until the end of surgery. The dexamethasone group (n = 73) received dexamethasone 8 mg. The primary endpoint was the overall incidence of POST, which was assessed serially over 48 hr postoperatively. The predefined margin of non-inferiority for magnesium against dexamethasone was 15%. Results: Overall incidences of POST at rest (50.7% versus 49.3% in the magnesium and dexamethasone group, respectively, p = 0.869) and swallowing (65.8% versus 61.6% in the magnesium and dexamethasone group, respectively, p = 0.606) were not different between the groups. The upper limit of the 90% confidence interval, which must be lower than the predefined margin of non-inferiority to prove the non-inferiority of magnesium sulphate against dexamethasone, for at rest and swallowing were 14.97% (p = 0.0496) and 17.19% (p = 0.0854), respectively. The incidences and severities of POST and hoarseness were also not different between the groups throughout the study period. Conclusions: Prophylactic magnesium sulphate appears to be non-inferior to dexamethasone for the prevention of POST at rest in patients undergoing lumbar spinal surgery in the prone position.
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