Perioperative management in chronically anticoagulated children undergoing tonsillectomy

Inbal Hazkani*, Kathleen R. Billings, Evan Edwards, Eli Stein, Rukhmi Bhat, Jennifer Lavin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: When undergoing tonsillectomy, patients at high risk of thrombosis who require chronic anticoagulation therapy pose a special challenge as bleeding may occur up to 2 weeks after surgery. Because of a lack of evidence-based data, there is no consensus on the best management for such patients. The objective of our study was to review perioperative anticoagulation bridging strategies in children undergoing tonsillectomy. Methods: The study group were a retrospective series of patients on chronic anticoagulation therapy at high risk of a thromboembolic event, who underwent tonsillectomy from 2010 to 2021. Patients whose anticoagulation treatment was discontinued because of a low risk of thromboembolic events were excluded. Results: Four patients met the inclusion criteria (age range, 1.5–16.1 years). All patients were admitted prior to surgery for bridging therapy with intravenous unfractionated heparin (UFH), drip-titrated to a therapeutic dose until 4–6 h prior to surgery. The estimated blood loss during surgery was minimal in all surgeries. Unfractionated heparin was readministered according to the hospital protocol on the night of surgery and titrated to a therapeutic dose. Warfarin was restarted within 2 days postsurgery for all patients. High-risk patients were kept in hospital until postoperative day 6–8 because of concern for delayed bleeding. One patient was noticed to have blood-tinged sputum requiring no intervention; none of the patients developed early or delayed hematemesis. Conclusions: Our data show that bridging therapy with UFH has been successful in chronically anticoagulated patients undergoing tonsillectomy. These patients require multidisciplinary care for the management of their pre- and postoperative course.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere15438
JournalPediatrics International
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023


  • anticoagulation
  • pediatric tonsillectomy
  • postoperative hemorrhage
  • unfractionated heparin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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