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Pain Manag Nurs. 2007 Dec;8(4):156-65.

Pain after tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy: "ouch it did hurt bad".

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University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA.


Severe pain experiences for children at home after tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy (T & A) have been described for more than a decade. Children and their parents are responsible for pain and symptom management during the postoperative home recovery. The purpose of this research was to more fully explore the pain experience and home management practices from the child's perspective. Diaries were used by 34 children (4-18 years of age) to document their pain and other symptoms. A home interview, stories, art work, and personal notes were also explored to fully capture the experience. From the evening of surgery through the second postoperative day, children reported mean pain intensity ratings of 3.1-3.3 out of a possible 4. Pain awakened 64.7% of the children from nighttime sleep and 52.9% reported vomiting associated with nausea. Children received an average of only 50% of the analgesic doses prescribed. Across the 3 postoperative days studied, pain remained severe and interventions offered minimal relief. Neither older children (chi(2) = 1.357, n = 13, df = 2, p = .259) nor younger children (chi(2) = 1.357, n = 12, df = 2, p = .507) reported significant differences in their mean pain intensity across the first 3 postoperative days. Results supported concerns for inadequate home pain management practices in the pediatric T & A population.

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