Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy (T&A) is a common, painful surgical procedure. The purpose of this descriptive-comparative study was to evaluate the effects of postanesthesia analgesic treatments on self-reported pain intensity, incidence of nausea and vomiting, and amount of oral fluid intake among pediatric patients after T&A. A total of 92 patients, 3 to 18 years old, received one of five analgesic treatments during their postoperative recovery: (1) intravenous fentanyl alone, (2) intravenous fentanyl in combination with an oral analgesic, (3) intravenous morphine alone, (4) intravenous morphine in combination with an oral analgesic, or (5) oral analgesics alone. Although significant differences were found in mg/kg morphine equivalents among the five analgesic groups (P < .0001), there were no differences in pain scores, incidence of nausea and vomiting, or amount of oral intake among the groups. Overall 29% of patients had nausea and vomiting, but all ingested oral fluids before discharge home. Nurses gave significantly more mg/kg morphine equivalents to patients who reported any pain while in the PACU (Phase I recovery) than patients who reported no pain (P = .046). All patient groups reported low pain scores upon discharge from Phase I and Phase II recovery. Nurses, however, reported difficulty obtaining pain-intensity scores for many patients, especially in Phase I. These findings suggest that despite variations in analgesics and the amount of analgesics administered, patients received adequate pain control. The findings also support the need for pain medication titration and validate that the amount required to relieve pain differs from child to child.
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