Evaluating obesity as a risk factor for complications after pediatric adenotonsillectomy

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International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology


Objectives: To evaluate associations between childhood obesity and post-adenotonsillectomy complications, informing guidelines for postoperative management. Methods: The retrospective review assessed outpatient pediatric tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy cases performed at 2 ambulatory surgery centers in 2020. Complications in the recovery unit and within 2 weeks of surgical discharge were reviewed along with clinical and demographic variables. Obesity was defined as sex-specific body mass index-for-age, or weight-for-age if height data were unavailable, at/above the 95th percentile. The 99th percentile served as the threshold for severe obesity. Analyses used Chi-square/Fisher's exact tests and independent-samples t-tests with relative risk or effect sizes. Results: The review included 707 cases (180 patients with obesity). Overall incidence of complications in the recovery unit was 9.1%. Patients with obesity were significantly more likely to require supplemental blow-by oxygen (P =.02); relative risk was 1.65 (95% CI: 1.16–2.35) times greater in the cohort with obesity. Obesity had a small effect on postoperative oxygen saturation nadirs, which were significantly lower among patients with obesity (d = −0.34; P <.001). No differences emerged between cohorts with and without obesity in the incidence of any other complications before or after surgical discharge. Overall incidence of post-discharge returns was 7.9%. Incidence of complications did not vary by obesity severity. Conclusion: From this cohort, childhood obesity without other significant comorbidities may not warrant routine inpatient care following adenotonsillectomy. Patients with obesity should receive additional monitoring for oxygen desaturation events during the first hours of recovery. Further prospective studies should continue to address this important topic.


Biological and Environmental Sciences

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