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Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2003 May;67(5):453-60.

A retrospective study of tonsillectomy in the under 2-year-old child: indications, perioperative management, and complications.

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Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Kansas Medical Center, 3901 Rainbow Boulevard, Kansas City 66160, USA.



To retrospectively review the experience with tonsillectomy in the under 2-year-old child at an urban children's hospital.


The medical records of 94 patients under 2 years old undergoing tonsillectomy between May 1, 1995, and May 31, 2000, were reviewed. The methods of tonsil and adenoid excision were noted, as was the use of perioperative steroids, antibiotics, and antiemetics. Outcome measures studied included the duration of postoperative inpatient observation, complications, time to first oral intake, prevalence of postoperative vomiting, type and duration of respiratory support, and improvement relative to operative indications.


Eighty-two patients (87%) underwent tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy (T&A). Twelve patients (13%) underwent tonsillectomy without adenoidectomy. Patient ages ranged from 12 to 23 months (mean 19.6+/-3.1). Indications included obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in 51 patients (54%), chronic or recurrent tonsillitis in 30 (32%), both OSA and infection in 11 (12%), and acute tonsillitis with airway obstruction in two (2%). Comorbid conditions were numerous. Preoperative polysomnograms were obtained for eight patients (8%). Hospital stays ranged from 4 h to 16 days. Complications included hemorrhage in four patients (4%) and pneumonia in two (2%). Oxygen was required after discharge from the recovery room in 27 patients (29%), with seven more (7%) requiring either reintubation, continuous positive airway pressure, or nasopharyngeal airways. Of the 88 patients on oral diets, only five (5%) took longer than 24 h to resume oral intake. Two patients (2%) experienced significant emesis after surgery. Four patients (4%) required treatment for dehydration after discharge.


Tonsillectomy is a procedure with low morbidity in the otherwise healthy child under 2 years of age. However, we advocate routine postoperative overnight inpatient observation in this age group. We found that young children with comorbid conditions had a higher incidence of complications and required special postoperative management strategies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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