Post-tonsillectomy infiltration with bupivacaine reduces immediate postoperative pain in children

A K Wong, B Bissonnette, B M Braude, R M Macdonald, P J St-Louis, D W Fear
Canadian Journal of Anaesthesia, Journal Canadien D'anesthésie 1995, 42 (9): 770-4
Pain management after tonsillectomy in children remains a dilemma for the anaesthetist. A previous study demonstrated that the administration of lidocaine 1% topical spray to the peritonsillar fossae before tracheal extubation provided considerable immediate postoperative pain relief in infants and children. However, the pain relief was of short duration. We were hopeful that the use of bupivacaine would offer more prolonged pain relief because of its pharmacological characteristics. Therefore, this study was designed to compare the effects of bupivacaine 0.5% with 1:200,000 epinephrine administered after tonsillectomy either as topical spray or submucosal infiltration on postoperative pain in children. Forty-three patients aged two to ten years were randomized into three groups after tonsillectomy was performed. Group (1) received 0.5 normal saline spray; (2) received 2 bupivacaine 0.5% with 1:200,000 epinephrine peritonsillar infiltration in a similar volume to Group 1 and; (3) received 2 bupivacaine 0.5% with 1:200,000 epinephrine spray to both tonsillar beds. The patients in each group were compared postoperatively with regard to the quality of pain control using the Objective Pain Score, and their analgesic requirements. Peritonsillar infiltration of bupivacaine provided superior immediate postoperative analgesia as reflected by lower recovery room pain scores (P < 0.05) and opioid requirements (P < 0.01). Ward pain scores and analgesic requirements were similar among groups. Peritonsillar infiltration of bupivacaine 0.5% with 1:200,000 epinephrine provides better post-tonsillectomy pain control in the immediate postoperative period than bupivacaine spray or placebo.

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