Is There a Risk of Bleeding With Ibuprofen After Tonsillectomy ?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Gillian R. Diercks, MD, MPHInstructor in Otolaryngology, Harvard Medical SchoolDepartment of OtolaryngologyMassachusetts Eye and Ear InfirmaryBoston, Massachusetts

Dr. Diercks

Gillian R. Diercks, MD, MPH
Instructor in Otolaryngology, Harvard Medical School
Department of Otolaryngology
Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary
Boston, Massachusetts 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Pediatric tonsillectomy is a commonly performed procedure, representing the second most common ambulatory surgery performed on children in the United States, with over half a million children undergoing the surgery annually.  A major concern for surgeons, patients, and their families is the issue of postoperative pain control as pain can last up to 10-14 days after surgery, be quite severe, and result in readmission to the hospital or ED visits for medications and dehydration.

In young children and children with sleep apnea we cannot safely administer narcotic pain medications at home.  This leaves limited options for pain control, including acetaminophen and ibuprofen.  However, there are concerns that ibuprofen could potentially increase bleeding risk after surgery because of its effects on platelet function in the blood.  At baseline, the risk of postoperative hemorrhage within the first two weeks after tonsillectomy is around 4.5%, with about 1-1.5% of children requiring a return to the operating room to control severe bleeding.  Our study set out to show that the risk of severe postoperative bleeding when ibuprofen is given for 9 days after tonsillectomy was not increased compared with the bleeding risk when acetaminophen was administered instead.

Our study could not conclude that the risk of bleeding is no different when ibuprofen is used, and was suggestive that the bleeding risk may actually be higher. Continue reading