How to Make Tonsillectomy a Safer Procedure: The Anaesthetist's View
Journal for Oto-Rhino-Laryngology
Anaesthetists use specific drugs peri-operatively to try to decrease the incidence and severity of postoperative pain and of postoperative nausea and vomiting. These drugs are usually administered pre-operatively with the premedication, or intra-operatively when the patient is still anaesthetised. The aim of this approach is to prevent the occurrence of intolerable pain or to avoid any nausea or vomiting symptoms which may be clearly unpleasant for the patient and which interfere with the
... fere with the patient's well-being, recovery and satisfaction. However, since most of these drugs are given prophylactically, and since not all patients will actually be suffering from intolerable pain or severe nausea and vomiting symptoms postoperatively, many patients will receive these drugs unnecessarily. Thus, for the individual patient, the risk of suffering from drug-related adverse reactions without profiting from any benefit may be relevant. Perhaps a 'wait-and-see' approach should be considered; especially non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs or dexamethasone should not be given pre-operatively to all patients but should be provided exclusively to those in whom alternative analgesics (for instance, paracetamol combined with a weak opioid) or alternative anti-emetics (for instance, a setron or droperidol) have failed or are associated with unacceptable adverse effects. There is no evidence that prophylactic administration of an analgesic or an anti-emetic is more efficacious than the therapeutic administration. An interesting alternative to achieve satisfactory posttonsillectomy analgesia may be with local anaesthesia swabs that are applied onto the wound.