Most surgery can result in some degree of pain. Pain management after tonsillectomy is currently being examined by the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. A new article published by News.com.au on August 15, 2015 opens boldly: “A tonsillectomy is an excuse to live off ice cream and jelly but new evidence shows young patients are being left in excruciating pain by the surgery.”
Though most children love ice cream and jelly, children in extreme pain are unlikely cheered by such desserts after tonsil surgery. Concerns with pain management are bringing children in for medical review soon after tonsil surgery:
“The Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital found an “alarming” 36 per cent of children presented within seven days of the operation to a health clinic and 10 per cent went to an emergency department for pain management, Dr Bramley said.”
Almost 20,000 children have the surgical procedure every year. Not just because of recurrent or chronic tonsillitis. Snoring and sleep apnoea are becoming more common clinical reasons for performing tonsillectomies. After surgery, families are given different prescriptions for their children’s pain depending on their anaesthetist and surgeons experience.
Pain management requires pain assessment and effective treatment. Families may have been given enough knowledge on how to deal with the pain after surgery. Despite this some parents and children reported almost nothing could help the pain experienced after surgery:
“Paracetamol on its own does not give sufficient pain relief and there is a risk ibuprofen could cause post-surgery bleeding. Oxycodone has side effects such as drowsiness, constipation, nausea and respiratory depression which can be risky if the child has sleep apnoea. It’s possible parents may not be given the right instructions or may not recognise the extent of their child’s pain, he said.”
Dr Bramley is seeking funding to further his research in the area to help improve pain management after tonsillectomy. Fortunately in our experience, with careful pain management taken as prescribed, most patients have effective pain control and are recovered well by around two weeks after the procedure.