A randomized clinical trial of the efficacy of scheduled dosing of acetaminophen and hydrocodone for the management of postoperative pain in children after tonsillectomy.
Author(s): Sutters KA, Miaskowski C, Holdridge-Zeuner D, Waite S, Paul SM, Savedra MC, Lanier B, Mahoney K
Affiliation(s): Children's Hospital Central California, Madera, CA 93636-8761, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
Publication date & source: 2010-02, Clin J Pain., 26(2):95-103.
Publication type: Randomized Controlled Trial
OBJECTIVES: To determine the effectiveness of around-the-clock (ATC) analgesic administration, with or without nurse coaching, compared with standard care with as needed (PRN) dosing in children undergoing outpatient tonsillectomy. METHODS: Children 6 to 15 years of age were randomized to receive acetaminophen and hydrocodone (167 mg/2.5 mg/5 mL) for 3 days after surgery: Group A (N=39)-every 4 hours PRN, with standard postoperative instructions; Group B (N=34)-every 4 hours ATC, with standard postoperative instructions, without nurse coaching; and Group C (N=40)-every 4 hours ATC, with standard postoperative instructions, with coaching. Parents completed a medication log, and recorded the presence and severity of opioid-related adverse effects and children's reports of pain intensity using a 0 to 10 numeric rating scale. RESULTS: No differences were found in analgesic administration or pain intensity scores between the 2 ATC groups. Therefore, they were combined for comparison with the PRN group. Children in the ATC group received more analgesic than those in the PRN group (P<0.0001). Children in the PRN group had higher pain intensity scores compared to children in the ATC group, both at rest (P=0.017) and with swallowing (P=0.017). Pain intensity scores for both groups were higher in the morning compared with the evening (P<0.0001). With the exception of constipation, scheduled analgesic dosing did not increase the frequency or severity of opioid-related adverse effects. DISCUSSION: Scheduled dosing of acetaminophen and hydrocodone is more effective than PRN dosing in reducing pain intensity in children after tonsillectomy. Nurse coaching does not impact parent's adherence to ATC dosing.