The effects of peritonsillar infiltration on the reduction of intraoperative blood loss and post-tonsillectomy pain in children

L M Broadman, R I Patel, B A Feldman, G L Sellman, G Milmoe, F Camilon
Laryngoscope 1989, 99 (6): 578-81
Improved hemostasis and reduction of postoperative pain are desired goals when performing tonsillectomy. This is especially true in children, who may be reluctant to receive intramuscular injections for pain relief and who may lose a higher percentage of total blood volume during surgery than adults. This study evaluated the effects of peritonsillar infiltration upon operative blood loss and postoperative pain in 42 children. For the purpose of infiltration, patients were randomly assigned to one of four groups. Children in groups I, II, and III had their peritonsillar infiltrations performed with the contents of a coded vial which contained bupivacaine 0.25% with epinephrine (1:200,000), normal saline with epinephrine (1:200,000), and normal saline, respectively. Group IV children (controls) received no infiltration. All solutions were prepared in the hospital pharmacy to assure binding of the operator and observer. All infiltrations were performed following the induction of general anesthesia and 5 minutes prior to the onset of surgery. Anesthetic agents, end-tidal carbon dioxide levels, and the administration of intravenous fluids were carefully regulated. Surgery was performed by one of two attending otolaryngologists or a senior otolaryngology fellow using the same dissection and snare technique. Hemostasis was managed by suction-electrocautery and packs. Patients in group IV, the control group, lost twice as much blood as did those who had infiltrations performed with normal saline, group III (p less than 0.001). However, patients in group III lost 1.5 times more blood than did those children in either of the two groups whose infiltrations were performed with an epinephrine solution, groups I and II (p less than 0.001). No postoperative bleeding was noted in any patient. Infiltration of the peritonsillar space with epinephrine (1:200,000) was shown to be more effective in reducing blood loss than infiltration with normal saline. Because of the small sample size we were unable to evaluate the beneficial effects of peritonsillar infiltration performed with bupivacaine upon the reduction of the severity of pain and the requirement for narcotic analgesics following tonsillectomy. Therefore, until further studies demonstrate such efficacy, all peritonsillar infiltrations should be performed solely for the purpose of reducing operative blood loss. As such, infiltrations should be performed with either normal saline containing epinephrine (1:200,000) or lidocaine containing epinephrine (1:200,000).

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