OBJECTIVE: To measure differences in postoperative pain in children undergoing intracapsular tonsillectomy vs. extracapsular tonsillectomy. STUDY DESIGN: Prospective clinical trial carried out at a tertiary children's hospital over 1 year. METHODS: The study included 43 patients age 5 to 19 years with adenotonsillar hypertrophy, 27 undergoing extracapsular tonsillectomy and 16 undergoing intracapsular tonsillectomy. Tonsillectomy was performed in either an intracapsular or extracapsular fashion using bipolar electrosurgical scissors and monopolar suction cautery for hemostasis. Residents under faculty supervision performed all operations. Postoperative pain was assessed using the Wong-Baker Faces Pain Scale through postoperative day 10. The patients recorded in a standardized diary pain scores and analgesic use. The main outcome measure was postoperative pain as measured by the Wong-Baker Faces Pain Scale. The quantity of postoperative pain medicine consumed was a secondary outcome measure. RESULTS: Average postoperative pain for extracapsular tonsillectomy was 5.21 on a 10-point scale versus 2.75 for intracapsular tonsillectomy (P <.0001). CONCLUSIONS: Intracapsular tonsillectomy with bipolar scissors results in less postoperative pain than extracapsular tonsillectomy with bipolar scissors in children age 5 to 19 years.
- Bipolar electrosurgical scissors
- Intracapsular tonsillectomy
- Outcomes research
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