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March 1993

Control of Early Postoperative Pain With Bupivacaine in Adult Local Tonsillectomy

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1993;119(3):292-293. doi:10.1001/archotol.1993.01880150040007

• Early postoperative pain following tonsillectomy remains a significant obstacle to speedy recovery and smooth convalescence. Inadequate analgesia causes poor oral intake and occasionally requires overnight hospitalization in sameday surgery practices. Although several otolaryngologists anecdotally support intraoperative infiltration with long-acting anesthetic agents for postoperative pain control, to our knowledge, no previous study confirms this claim. In a prior investigation, we found no difference between bupivacaine hydrochloride and saline placebo in pediatric patients undergoing tonsillectomy. In this trial, we performed a similar study in an adult population. Fifty-one patients undergoing tonsillectomy with local anesthesia were randomized into bupivacaine or saline placebo groups. patients provided the following data: (1) pain level; (2) oral intake; (3) number of pain medication doses; and (4) level of pain on jaw opening, all at 10 hours postoperatively. Bupivacaine administration resulted in no adverse effects. No difference was noted in pain level, amount of oral intake, or pain on full jaw opening. Bupivacaine group patients received fewer though not statistically significant doses of pain medication than placebo group patients. We conclude that bupivacaine is a safe medication but offers no advantage in the control of early postoperative pain in adult patients undergoing local tonsillectomy.

(Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1993;119:292-293)