To investigate the association of the 2011 American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery guidelines with perioperative care processes and outcomes in children undergoing tonsillectomy.
We conducted a retrospective cohort study of otherwise healthy children undergoing tonsillectomy between January 2009 and January 2013 at 29 US children’s hospitals participating in the Pediatric Health Information System. We measured evidence-based processes suggested by the guidelines (perioperative dexamethasone and no antibiotic use) and outcomes (30-day tonsillectomy complication-related revisits). We analyzed rates aggregated over the preguideline and postguideline periods and then by month over time by using interrupted time series.
Of 111 813 children who underwent tonsillectomy, 54 043 and 57 770 did so in the preguideline and postguideline periods, respectively. Dexamethasone use increased from 74.6% to 77.4% (P < .001) in the preguideline to postguideline period, as did its rate of change in use (percentage change per month, −0.02% to 0.29%; P < .001). Antibiotic use decreased from 34.7% to 21.8% (P < .001), as did its rate of change in use (percentage change per month, −0.17% to −0.56%; P < .001). Revisits for bleeding remained stable; however, total revisits to the hospital for tonsillectomy complications increased from 8.2% to 9.0% (P < .001) because of an increase in revisits for pain. Hospital-level results were similar.
The guidelines were associated with some improvement in evidence-based perioperative care processes but no improvement in outcomes. Dexamethasone use increased slightly, and antibiotic use decreased substantially. Revisits for tonsillectomy-related complications increased modestly over time because of revisits for pain.