Limited information exists about the short-term morbidity of parotidectomy in children. This information is important when counseling parents and planning treatment for children with parotid masses.
To examine 30-day perioperative outcomes after parotidectomy in the pediatric population.
Design, Setting, and Participants
A prospective case series of 87 pediatric patients who underwent parotidectomy from January 1, 2008, to June 30, 2015, performed by 2 pediatric head and neck specialists in a tertiary care pediatric hospital.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Thirty-day perioperative complications, postoperative facial nerve function, reoperation rates, and readmission rates were the main outcome measures. Secondary outcome measures were operative time and length of stay.
Ninety parotidectomies (71 superficial and 19 total) were performed in 87 patients (48 male and 39 female). Mean age at operation was 8.3 years. Eighty-five of the cases (94%) were performed for benign disease. Mean operative time was 4.09 hours (range, 1.58-10.43 hours) and mean length of stay was 2.24 days (range, 0.97-4.33 days). Immediate postoperative facial weakness was observed in 32 cases (36%); 10 of these cases (31%) involved the upper branch and 29 (90%) involved the lower branch. Immediate postoperative paresis occurred more often after total parotidectomy vs superficial parotidectomy (11 of 19 [58%] vs 21 of 71 [30%]; P = .03) but was unrelated to the etiologic cause of the patients’ parotid disease. Thirty of 32 cases (94%) of facial nerve weakness were transient, and the mean time to resolution was 61 days. Eleven complications (12%) other than facial nerve weakness occurred during the 30-day postoperative period. Three patients (3%) required a return to the operating room for hematoma or wound dehiscence. One patient (1%) required readmission in the 30-day postoperative period for contralateral parotitis.
Conclusions and Relevance
We observed a low rate of 30-day perioperative complications as a result of superficial or total parotidectomy for pediatric parotid disease. Major adverse events included return to the operating room and 1 wound infection. Only 1 patient required readmission. Transient weakness of the facial nerve is relatively common, observed more often in the lower division, and can be expected to resolve in most patients by an average of 2 months.