This is an update of a Cochrane Review first published in The Cochrane Library in Issue 2, 2008.Tonsillectomy continues to be one of the most common surgical procedures performed in children and adults. Despite improvements in surgical and anaesthetic techniques, postoperative morbidity, mainly in the form of pain, remains a significant clinical problem. Postoperative bacterial infection of the tonsillar fossa has been proposed as an important factor causing pain and associated morbidity, and some studies have found a reduction in morbid outcomes following the administration of perioperative antibiotics.
To determine whether perioperative antibiotics reduce pain and other morbid outcomes following tonsillectomy.
We searched the Cochrane ENT Group Trials Register, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library 2009, Issue 4), MEDLINE (1950 to 2009) and EMBASE (1974 to 2009). The date of the last search was 30 October 2009.
All randomised controlled trials examining the impact of perioperative administration of systemic antibiotics on post-tonsillectomy morbidity in children or adults.
Two authors independently collected data. Primary outcomes were pain, consumption of analgesia and secondary haemorrhage (defined as significant if patient re-admitted, transfused blood products or returned to theatre, and total (any documented) haemorrhage). Secondary outcomes were fever, time taken to resume normal diet and activities and adverse events. Where possible, we generated summary measures using random-effects models.
Ten trials, comprising a pooled total of 1035 participants, met the eligibility criteria. Most did not find a significant reduction in pain with antibiotics. Similarly, antibiotics were mostly not shown to be effective in reducing the need for analgesics. Antibiotics were not associated with a reduction in significant secondary haemorrhage rates (relative risk (RR) 0.49, 95% CI 0.08 to 3.11, P = 0.45) or total secondary haemorrhage rates (RR 0.90, 95% CI 0.56 to 1.44, P = 0.66). With regard to secondary outcomes, antibiotics reduced the proportion of subjects with fever (RR 0.63, 95% CI 0.46 to 0.85, P = 0.002).