This Belgian prospective study reported on the postoperative recovery time after routine ENT surgery (grommets, adenotonsillectomy), and compared parental estimations of postoperative pain with those of the child themselves (however, the authors do admit that many of the children included were too young to accurately record their pain). They looked at 69 children (the initial cohort consisted of 76 patients, but seven patients were lost to follow-up), and monitored them for two weeks postoperatively via diary entries and telephone calls. After grommet insertion, patients mainly reported pain, behavioural changes and emotional impact with an average recovery time of 4.6 days.
With adenotonsillectomy, the average recovery time was longer at 6.2 days with pain being the most prevalent complaint, followed by nausea and vomiting, swallowing difficulties, sleep disturbance and behavioural/emotional impact. Perhaps unsurprisingly, parents had difficulty estimating the severity of their children’s pain and frequently both under- and over-estimated this.
This study could be extended to look at immediate postoperative complications, and a larger sample size would be useful. However, this data is very useful when counselling patients regarding what to expect during the postoperative period for common ENT procedures.