Corticosteroids and wound healing: Clinical considerations in the perioperative period

Audrey S. Wang, Ehrin J. Armstrong, April W. Armstrong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

167 Scopus citations


Background: Determining whether systemic corticosteroids impair wound healing is a clinically relevant topic that has important management implications. Methods: We reviewed literature on the effects of corticosteroids on wound healing from animal and human studies searching MEDLINE from 1949 to 2011. Results: Some animal studies show a 30% reduction in wound tensile strength with perioperative corticosteroids at 15 to 40 mg/kg/day. The preponderance of human literature found that high-dose corticosteroid administration for <10 days has no clinically important effect on wound healing. In patients taking chronic corticosteroids for at least 30 days before surgery, their rates of wound complications may be increased 2 to 5 times compared with those not taking corticosteroids. Complication rates may vary depending on dose and duration of steroid use, comorbidities, and types of surgery. Conclusions: Acute, high-dose systemic corticosteroid use likely has no clinically significant effect on wound healing, whereas chronic systemic steroids may impair wound healing in susceptible ndividuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)410-417
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • Corticosteroids
  • Perioperative
  • Wound healing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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