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July 1997

Sickle Cell Disease and Tonsillectomy: Preoperative Management and Postoperative Complications

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Surgery (Drs Halvorson, Ashmore, and Porubsky) and Pediatrics (Drs V. McKie and K. McKie), Division of Otolaryngology, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta. Dr Halvorson is currently with the Division of Otolaryngology, Department of Surgery, the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1997;123(7):689-692. doi:10.1001/archotol.1997.01900070033005

Background:  Patients with sickle cell disease are recognized as having a relatively higher risk for postoperative complications, including fever, atelectasis, pneumonia, or sickle cell vaso-occlusion.

Objective:  To present a protocol for preoperative management of patients with sickle cell disease undergoing tonsillectomy, including the use of transfusions and intravenous hydration.

Design:  Retrospective chart review.

Setting:  Academic, tertiary care referral medical center.

Patients:  Seventy-five patients with sickle cell disease who underwent tonsillectomy with or without adenoidectomy were included for review. Preoperative management was documented, and risk factors were assessed. Intraoperative management was reviewed, and postoperative complications were identified and compared with preoperative data and management.

Results:  Preoperative management consisted of transfusions to a hemoglobin S ratio (hemoglobin S—total hemoglobin) less than 40% or a hemoglobin level greater than 100 g/L. Aggressive intravenous hydration of 1.5 times the maintenance fluid was given 24 hours before surgery. Increased complications were associated with a preoperative hemoglobin S ratio greater than 40% (P<.05) and an age younger than 4 years (P<.05). Operative time, technique, and blood loss were not statistically significant risk factors. The average length of hospitalization was 4.8 days.

Conclusions:  Children with sickle cell disease presenting for elective tonsillectomy should be given a transfusion to a hemoglobin S ratio less than 40% in an attempt to reduce postoperative complications. Additional factors, such as age and presence of obstructive sleep apnea, only increase the potential risks.Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1997;123:689-692

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