Oral morphine for pain management in paediatric patients after tonsillectomy and adenotonsillectomy.

Babatunde Oremule, Maria Johnson, Lorraine Sanderson, Jan Lutz, Jenny Dodd, Paul Hans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



The withdrawal of codeine for use in children following tonsillectomy enforced a change in our practice of providing regular paracetamol and ibuprofen, with codeine for breakthrough pain relief. Our objectives were to; examine the effectiveness of paracetamol and ibuprofen; examine the effectiveness of the addition of rescue (PRN) morphine to regular paracetamol and ibuprofen.


A 2 cycle prospective audit was conducted on our unit. Telephone consultations were conducted with parents of 74 children undergoing tonsillectomy and adenotonsillectomy. Cycle 1 (C1, without morphine) contained 24 consecutive patients and cycle 2 (C2, with morphine) contained 50 consecutive patients. Postoperative health service contact and outcome was recorded: worst pain scores on days 4 and 7 were obtained using validated pain assessment tools scoring 0-10. Cycle 2 results underwent subgroup analysis by method of surgery i.e. coblation (C2C) and cold steel dissection (C2D) groups.


More than half of parents felt simple analgesia was not effective enough in both cycles, this number was significantly higher in both 2nd cycle groups (C1=54%, C2C=74%, p=0.003, C2D=84%, p=0.0001). Mean worst pain reported at day 4 was similar for all groups, but the morphine groups reported higher pain at day 7 (C1 1.6, C2C 3.59, p=0.017, C2D 3.90, p=0.002). Antibiotic prescribing for children contacting a GP after surgery was significantly lower in the morphine groups (C1 24%, C2C 7%, p=0.0014, C2D 5%, p=0.0002). There was no difference in measured outcomes between the 2nd cycle groups.


This service evaluation found that postoperative morphine on an as-required basis, in addition to regular paracetamol and ibuprofen, did not significantly alter initial pain profile, worst pain scores or rate of health service contact when compared to regular paracetamol and ibuprofen alone. The majority of children in this study felt additional analgesia required. Children in the morphine groups experienced significantly less pharmacological intervention when contacting the GP after surgery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2116-2169
Number of pages4
JournalInternational journal of pediatric otorhinolaryngology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2015


  • Paediatric
  • Adenotonsillectomy
  • Tonsillectomy
  • pain management
  • Morphine


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