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Pain Med. 2012 Mar;13(3):472-83. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4637.2011.01324.x. Epub 2012 Feb 7.

A descriptive feasibility study to evaluate scheduled oral analgesic dosing at home for the management of postoperative pain in preschool children following tonsillectomy.

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  • 1Surgical Services, Pain Management, Children's Hospital Central California, Madera, California 93636-8761, USA.



The purpose of this study, in a sample of preschool children (ages 3-5 years; N = 47), was to evaluate the feasibility of scheduled analgesic dosing following outpatient tonsillectomy in order to optimize pain management.


Parents were instructed to give their child acetaminophen with hydrocodone (167 mg/5 mL) every 4 hours around the clock for the first 3 days following surgery. Parents recorded ratings of their child's pain with/without swallowing using the Faces, Legs, Activity, Cry, and Consolability (FLACC) behavioral pain scale, pain relief ratings, and severity of analgesic side effects in a home diary. Audiotaped interviews were conducted with parents to document descriptions of their experiences in managing their child's pain at home.


Mean FLACC scores with/without swallowing were less than two at each measurement time and pain relief scores increased over time. Total analgesic dose decreased, and the number of missed doses increased over the first 3 days after surgery. Moderate-to-severe daytime sedation, nausea, vomiting, and constipation were reported by parents.


Study results suggest that acetaminophen with hydrocodone is effective in relieving preschool children's pain following tonsillectomy and that parental adherence to a scheduled analgesic regimen decreases over time. Time-contingent dosing was associated with moderate to severe side effects and should be addressed in discharge teaching with parents. Findings provide insight into parents' perspective of pain management at home following tonsillectomy and methods for relieving their child's pain.

Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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