BACKGROUND: Postoperative sore throat is common after general anesthesia. The incidence in pediatric anesthesia is variable, and the etiology unclear. Establishing risk factors would enable prevention and could improve quality of care.
AIMS: We performed a prospective single-center cohort study aiming to establish the incidence of postoperative sore throat in children undergoing GA with an endotracheal tube or laryngeal mask airway. Secondary aims were to identify independent risk factors for sore throat and the incidence of other postoperative complications including stridor, laryngospasm, nausea and vomiting, and delayed oral intake.
METHODS: Between November 2017 and April 2018, perioperative data were collected from children aged 5-16 years undergoing general, plastic, urology, renal, and orthopedic surgery. Patients completed a postoperative questionnaire within 24 hours of surgery.
RESULTS: We screened 334 children for inclusion at a tertiary pediatric hospital in the United Kingdom. One hundred and ninety-seven patients were included in the final analysis. The frequency of postoperative sore throat was 36.5%. Stridor occurred in 1.5%, laryngospasm 1.0%, postoperative nausea 59.4%, vomiting in recovery 4.6%, and delayed oral intake due to postoperative sore throat 30%. Nausea, vomiting, thirst, and pain were associated with a sore throat. Univariate analysis showed anesthesia longer than 2 hours, and use of an endotracheal tube was statistically associated with higher risk of sore throat. Over 50% of children with an endotracheal tube cuff pressure <20 cmH2 O had a postoperative sore throat.
CONCLUSION: Postoperative sore throat is common in children. Endotracheal intubation is associated with a greater incidence than laryngeal mask airway use. A high rate of postoperative sore throat in children with endotracheal tube cuff pressures within the recommended range suggests multifactorial etiology. To confirm validity of the identified risk factors, we would recommend a larger prospective multi-center study.