To assess whether administration of dexamethasone during tonsillectomy is associated with a dose-dependent increased rate of postoperative tonsillectomy hemorrhage.
Retrospective review of 2788 children and adolescents who underwent tonsillectomy with or without adenoidectomy for sleep-disordered breathing or infectious tonsillitis and received perioperative dexamethasone between January 1, 2002, and March 3, 2009. Patients underwent 1 of 3 methods of tonsillectomy, including extracapsular electrosurgical tonsillectomy, extracapsular radiofrequency ablation tonsillectomy, or intracapsular microdebrider tonsillotomy.
Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.
Two thousand seven hundred eighty-eight children and adolescents aged 2 to 18 years (hereinafter referred to as children) who underwent tonsillectomy with or without adenoidectomy.
Each child received 1 of 2 distinct intravenous doses of perioperative dexamethasone (0.5 mg/kg or 1.0 mg/kg) based on the protocol of the surgeon who performed the tonsillectomy; other aspects of care, including anesthetic technique, perioperative analgesia, and postoperative care, were equivalent between children.
Main Outcome Measures
Occurrence of postoperative hemorrhage based on 3 severity stratification levels.
Ninety-four of the 2788 children experienced 104 episodes of postoperative hemorrhage. After adjusting for age, sex, primary diagnosis, and surgical technique, the odds ratio of experiencing a postoperative hemorrhage of any severity in children who received the 1.0-mg/kg compared with the 0.5-mg/kg dose was 0.66 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.42-1.05). Children requiring readmission with or without the need for operative intervention demonstrated an adjusted odds ratio of 0.83 (95% CI, 0.51-1.36). An adjusted odds ratio of 0.71 (95% CI, 0.39-1.28) was seen in children requiring operative intervention.
In this observational review of children undergoing tonsillectomy or adenotonsillectomy, perioperative dexamethasone administration is not associated with a dose-dependent elevation of postoperative hemorrhage rates after adjusting for age, sex, primary diagnosis, and surgical technique.