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Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2009 Feb;73(2):263-73. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2008.10.014. Epub 2008 Dec 4.

The effect of preoperative fasting on postoperative pain, nausea and vomiting in pediatric ambulatory tonsillectomy.

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University of Turku, Department of Nursing Science, Turku, Finland.



The aim of this prospective randomized study was to examine whether active counseling and more liberal oral fluid intake decrease postoperative pain, nausea and vomiting in pediatric ambulatory tonsillectomy.


Families, whose child was admitted for ambulatory tonsillectomy or adenotonsillectomy, were randomly assigned to the study groups (n=116; 58 families in each group). The intervention group received the fasting instructions with face-to-face counseling for the child's active preoperative nutrition, and the control group the fasting instructions according to the hospital's standard procedure. The level of postoperative pain and nausea was scored in the postanesthesia care unit (PACU) during the first postoperative hour, as well as at 2, 4, 8 and 24h postoperatively. The first scoring in PACU was performed by the attending nurse with a 0-10 scale. The rest of the estimations were made independently and simultaneously by the children using a VAS scale, and by the parents using a 0-10 scale.


The children in the control group were in more pain in the PACU than the children in the intervention group, and the difference between the groups was statistically significant (p=0.0002). All pain scores, according to the children and the parents, increased after the surgery. In both groups the highest score values were found at home 8h after surgery, and no significant difference was found between the study groups. On the first postoperative morning, the children in the control group were in pain (p=0.047). The children did not have significant nausea in the PACU, but the nausea increased postoperatively. Four hours after surgery the children were most nauseous according to all estimations (60%, n=116). More than half of the children vomited and most vomited clotted blood. Nausea and vomiting decreased during the evening of the surgery, but six children vomited the next morning, four of them vomited blood. The incidence and intensity of postoperative nausea and vomiting between the intervention and control groups were not statistically significant. However, preoperative nutritional counseling and more liberal per oral fluid intake appeared to have a positive effect on the children's well-being and helped them to better tolerate postoperative nausea and vomiting.


The preoperative counseling about active preoperative nutrition significantly reduces the child's pain during the first posttonsillectomy hours and might prepare the child to better tolerate the stress of potential postoperative nausea and vomiting.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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