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J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2013 Oct 9;42:50. doi: 10.1186/1916-0216-42-50.

Quantifying respiratory complications post-adenotonsillectomy in patients with normal or inconclusive overnight oximetry.

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Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Montreal Children's Hospital, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.



Children with sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) are at risk of developing post-operative respiratory complications following adenotonsillectomy (T&A). Our goal was to describe and quantify these complications following T&A in children with clinical SDB but with a pre-operative overnight home oximetry score of "normal/inconclusive" (McGill Oximetry Score (MOS) of 1), and to determine whether these children could safely undergo surgery in peripheral hospitals or outpatient surgical centers.


We performed a retrospective chart review of patients 3 years and older who had T&A between 2003 and 2010 at 2 of our institution's hospitals. To be included in the study, in addition to not having severe comorbidities, children had to have undergone an overnight home oximetry within 12 months of surgery that was normal or inconclusive (MOS of 1). This was defined as fewer than 3 episodes of oxygen desaturation below 90% and stable baseline saturation over 95%. Medical charts were reviewed for major and minor postoperative respiratory complications. The main outcome measure was post-T&A respiratory complications.


Out of 2708 T&A patients, 231 met the inclusion criteria. No patient had a major postoperative respiratory complication requiring re-intubation or admission to the intensive care unit. Five patients (2.16%) had minor respiratory complications but only one required admission to the ward.


An overnight home oximetry that is "normal/inconclusive" (MOS of 1) can be used as a screening tool to identify patients with sleep-disordered breathing who can be safely sent to peripheral hospitals or outpatient surgical centers for T&A.

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