DECS-II: Dexamethasone for Cardiac Surgery-II Trial

Bayside Health (Other)
Overall Status
Unknown status ID
UMC Utrecht (Other)

Study Details

Study Description

Brief Summary

Background. Numerous studies have investigated high-dose corticosteroids in cardiac surgery, but with mixed results leading to ongoing variations in practice around the world. The Dexamethasone for Cardiac Surgery-II Trial (DECS-II) is a study comparing high-dose dexamethasone with placebo in patients undergoing cardiac surgery.

Methods. We discuss the rationale for conducting DECS-II, a 2800-patient, pragmatic, multicenter, assessor-blinded, randomized trial in cardiac surgery, and the features of the DECS-II study design (objectives, end points, target population, balanced clusters based on practice preference with post-randomization consent, treatments, patient follow-up and analysis).

Conclusions. The DECS-II Trial will use a novel, efficient trial design to evaluate whether high-dose dexamethasone has a patient-centered benefit of enhancing recovery and increasing the number of days at home after cardiac surgery.

Condition or Disease Intervention/Treatment Phase
Phase 4

Detailed Description

High-dose corticosteroids attenuate the inflammatory response to surgery with CPB and are commonly used in some countries,but uncommonly in the US, Canada and Australia. Steroids can reliably attenuate activation of the complement pathways associated with cardiac surgery, but clinical trials have had mixed results. The current evidence is dominated by the results of two recent large randomized trials: DECS (n=4,494)6 and SIRS (n=7,507).

Both DECS and SIRS assigned patients undergoing cardiac surgery with CPB to receive either a high intraoperative dose of steroids (dexamethasone 1 mg/kg, or methylprednisolone 500 mg, respectively) or placebo. The point estimates of both trials suggested a possible reduction in serious complications and mortality. Planned subgroup analyses in the DECS trial steroids reduced the incidence of respiratory failure (3.0 % vs. 4.3%, P=0.02), infection (9.5% vs. 14.8%, P=0.009), and shortened hospital stay (median 8 [7-13] vs. 9 [7-13] days, P=0.009).6 Severe renal failure (need for RRT) was reduced, 0.4% vs. 1.0%, P=0.04.8 But SIRS found methylprednisolone was associated with a higher incidence of myocardial injury (as measured by elevation of CK-MB enzyme). Nether trial identified a higher risk of myocardial infarction (MI). The methylprednisolone-induced elevation of CK-MB may therefore be a class effect.

Another compelling finding in pre-planned subgroup analysis of patient age groups is that when limiting analysis to those aged less than 75 years in the DECS trial, dexamethasone reduced the risk of the primary composite endpoint, RR 0.74 (95% CI: 0.58-0.95), P=0.017; as well as respiratory failure RR 0.62 (95% CI: 0.42-0.91), P=0.014; and possibly mortality RR 0.53 (95% CI: 0.26-1.10), P=0.08.6 This age-interaction effect is supported by the demonstration of increased C-reactive protein concentrations in younger patients enrolled in the DECS trial.

Therefore, it is highly plausible that prophylactic steroids can suppress deregulated inflammation and thus improve outcomes in cardiac surgery, but only when used in a less elderly (i.e. <75 years) patient population.

In retrospect, the primary endpoints of both DECS and SIRS trials can be challenged, in that they used composites heavily weighted by thrombotic events (MI, stroke) and not specific to inflammation (respiratory failure, kidney injury, sepsis, prolonged ICU and hospital stay, mortality). We thus plan to re-evaluate dexamethasone in cardiac surgery, using a patient-centred, clinically important endpoint focused on enhanced recovery and earlier hospital discharge: "days alive and at home up to 30 days after surgery".

Study Design

Study Type:
Anticipated Enrollment :
2800 participants
Intervention Model:
Parallel Assignment
Double (Participant, Outcomes Assessor)
Primary Purpose:
Official Title:
Evaluation of Dexamethasone in Cardiac Surgery Using a Novel Trial Design
Actual Study Start Date :
Sep 1, 2018
Anticipated Primary Completion Date :
May 1, 2022
Anticipated Study Completion Date :
May 1, 2022

Arms and Interventions

Arm Intervention/Treatment
No Intervention: Control

No placebo required

Active Comparator: Dexamethasone

Dexamethasone, 1 mg/kg (maximal dose 100 mg), single dose administration before cardiopulmonary bypass

Drug: Dexamethasone
Dexamethasone administered as a single IV injection after induction of anaesthesia, but before initiation of CPB. Prepare as a 20 mg/mL dexamethasone solution, made up with 0.9% saline to 10 ml.

Outcome Measures

Primary Outcome Measures

  1. days at home up to 30 days after surgery [30 days from Start of Surgery]

    Home is defined as a person's usual abode or that of a close relative, excluding any nursing facility (rehabilitation center or nursing home).

Secondary Outcome Measures

  1. respiratory failure [30 days from Start of Surgery]

    Uninterrupted postoperative mechanical ventilation for more than 48 hours from admission to ICU

  2. Infection [30 days from Start of Surgery]

    Surgical site infection, pneumonia, or documented positive microbial culture from any site (including blood).

  3. Myocardial Infarction [30 days from Start of Surgery]

    Postoperative myocardial infarction will be defined according to the third universal definition

  4. Stroke [30 days from Start of Surgery]

    A new neurological deficit lasting more than 24 hours or leading to earlier death, and confirmed by medical imaging.

  5. Peak blood glucose [30 days from Start of Surgery]

    The highest blood glucose measured in this same period

  6. Length of stay [30 days from Start of Surgery]

    Time from postoperative ICU admission to ICU discharge (hours) and hospital discharge (days).

  7. Quick SOFA score [Each evening on days 1-3 after surgery]

    Tachypnoea, altered mentation and/or hypotension

Eligibility Criteria


Ages Eligible for Study:
18 Years to 75 Years
Sexes Eligible for Study:
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:
Inclusion Criteria:
  1. Males and females, age 18 to 75 years undergoing elective cardiac surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass

  2. EuroScore-II estimated risk of 1.5% or higher

Exclusion Criteria:
  1. Poor language (English or Dutch) comprehension

  2. Type I diabetes

  3. Endocarditis or other evidence of sepsis

  4. Preoperative steroid therapy

Contacts and Locations


Site City State Country Postal Code
1 Alfred Health Melbourne Victoria Australia 3004

Sponsors and Collaborators

  • Bayside Health
  • UMC Utrecht


  • Principal Investigator: Paul S Myles, MBBS, MD, Alfred Hospital, Monash University

Study Documents (Full-Text)

None provided.

More Information


None provided.
Responsible Party:
Bayside Health Identifier:
Other Study ID Numbers:
  • 69
First Posted:
Dec 23, 2016
Last Update Posted:
Oct 12, 2020
Last Verified:
Mar 1, 2020
Individual Participant Data (IPD) Sharing Statement:
Plan to Share IPD:
Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Drug Product:
Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Device Product:
Keywords provided by Bayside Health
Additional relevant MeSH terms:

Study Results

No Results Posted as of Oct 12, 2020