Effect of pre- vs postoperative tonsillar infiltration with local anesthetics on postoperative pain after tonsillectomy

S Molliex, P Haond, D Baylot, J M Prades, M Navez, Z Elkhoury, C Auboyer
Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica 1996, 40 (10): 1210-5

BACKGROUND: Since pre-incisional peritonsillar infiltrations of local anesthetic solutions have been suggested to reduce postoperative pain after tonsillectomy, we compared the efficacy of either pre- or postoperative local anesthetic infiltration upon post-tonsillectomy pain.

METHODS: After the induction of general anesthesia, 68 consecutive healthy patients, ranging in age from 8 to 65 years, were randomly allocated to either receive peritonsillar infiltration with 0.25% bupivacaine (group 1) or normal saline (group 2) before incision. A third group (group 3) had their peritonsillar region infiltrated with 0.25% bupivacaine after the completion of surgery but before the patients were awakened from anesthesia. All the patients were treated in the same way in the postoperative period: NSAIDs were given intravenously to adults and rectally to children. Acetaminophen was given intravenously or rectally (children aged < 15 yr) if additional analgesic support was requested by the patient. Additional acetaminophen consumption was recorded daily. Pain scores were assessed on every patient with the use of a visual analogue scale (VAS) at rest, 1, 5, 9, 13, 17, 21 and 36 h after surgery, and also on swallowing during the first postoperative day.

RESULTS: Global VAS pain scores were lower in the groups treated with bupivacaine infiltration during the first 24 h after surgery (P < 0.05). Supplementary analgesic consumption was lower in group 3 than in group 2 during the 0-9 h interval immediately following surgery (P < 0.05). There were no statistically significant differences for any other parameters between the 3 groups.

CONCLUSION: These results suggest that the timing of peritonsillar infiltration with bupivacaine is not of clinical importance and does not affect the quality of postoperative analgesia in patients undergoing tonsillectomy.

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