Perioperative complications of adenotonsillectomy in children with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome

John C Sanders, Melinda A King, Ronald B Mitchell, James P Kelly
Anesthesia and Analgesia 2006, 103 (5): 1115-21
We evaluated the rate of complications experienced by children who undergo adenotonsillectomy for obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS), the safety of a standard anesthetic protocol for these children, and preoperative predictors of complications. Sixty-one children with OSAS, confirmed by polysomnography, and 21 children with recurrent tonsillitis were anesthetized using a standard protocol before adenotonsillectomy (ages 2-16 yr, ASA 1-3). The number of complications and medical interventions in the perioperative period were recorded and correlated with the presence and severity of OSAS. Children with OSAS had more respiratory complications per operation than non-OSAS children (5.7 vs 2.9, P < 0.0001). Supraglottic obstruction, breath holding, and desaturation on anesthetic induction and emergence were the most common complications. Increased severity of OSAS, low weight, and young age are correlated with an increased rate of complications. Medical intervention was necessary in more children with OSAS during recovery and emergence than in the non-OSAS group (17/61 vs 1/21, P < 0.05). Both groups of children had similar opioid requirements and time to discharge from the recovery room. These findings suggest that children with OSAS are at risk for respiratory complications after adenotonsillectomy, but that these complications do not prolong the time to discharge.

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