Objectives: To determine whether the introduction of a 14-day post-tonsillectomy analgesic regime would be associated with a statistically significant decrease in readmission rate.
Method: A comparative study of tonsillectomy patients over two study periods. A retrospective review was undertaken of 342 patients (group one, five-day analgesic regime) who had undergone tonsillectomy. A prospective study was undertaken of 228 patients (group two, 14-day analgesic regime). The readmission rates for the two study periods were compared.
Results: The median age of group one patients was 8.1 years (range, zero to 43 years). In this group, ‘cold steel’ dissection was performed in 177 patients (52 per cent) and bipolar dissection in 165 patients (48 per cent); seven patients suffered reactionary haemorrhage, all from the cold steel dissection group. The median age of group two patients was 8.0 years (range, one to 47 years). In this group, cold steel dissection was performed in 103 patients (45 per cent) and bipolar dissection in 125 patients (55 per cent); there were no cases of reactionary haemorrhage. The readmission rate for group one was 9.9 per cent (34 patients), with 2.1 per cent (seven patients) returning to the operating theatre for control of haemorrhage. In group two, 8.8 per cent (20 patients) were readmitted and 1.3 per cent (three patients) returned to the operating theatre. The main reason for readmission was secondary haemorrhage: 9.1 per cent from group one and 8.3 per cent from group two. No significant difference in readmission was found between the 5-day analgesia and the 14-day analgesia groups (p=0.443). However, there was a significant difference between the diathermy and cold steel dissection groups (p<0.001). Patients undergoing bipolar diathermy were almost six times more likely to be readmitted than those undergoing cold steel dissection (odds ratio 5.78). The average time to readmission after tonsillectomy did not significantly differ between the two groups.
Conclusion: The post-tonsillectomy readmission rate was not affected by the duration of post-operative analgesia; however, operating technique did have an effect.