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J Laryngol Otol. 2007 Sep;121(9):809-17. Epub 2007 Jun 7.

Morbidity after adenotonsillectomy for paediatric obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome: waking up to a pragmatic approach.

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  • 1Department of ENT, Medway Maritime Hospital, Gillingham, UK. annabelle.leong@btinternet.com



Adenotonsillectomy is successful at eliminating airway obstruction in the majority of otherwise normal children with obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome. Children with this condition are at significantly higher risk of post-operative respiratory complications. Identifying children at risk of post-operative respiratory complications after adenotonsillectomy for obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome remains a challenge for clinicians, especially those at district general hospitals.


To review the evidence and to proffer a pragmatic approach to diagnosis and management, by classifying those at risk of post-operative respiratory complications into different risk subsets, with guidelines for management.


Patients in the high risk group should be operated upon at paediatric specialist centres with intensive care facilities. Those in the moderate risk group may undergo adenotonsillectomy at their district general hospital, provided facilities for administering continuous positive airway pressure are available on-site. Most children with obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome may be classified as low risk candidates and may safely be operated upon at their local district general hospital.

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