Background: Hemorrhage after tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy remains a serious complication. Therefore, routine preoperative coagulation screening, including activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT), prothrombin time (PT) and platelet count (PLC), are regularly performed, also for medicolegal reasons. In the recently published statement of the German Society of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery the need for routine preoperative coagulation screening is discussed, but so far no standardized procedure had been established. According to this statement - at least for children - routine preoperative coagulation screening is not mandatory as long as the thorough medical history provides no evidence for a coagulation disorder ( http://www.hno.org/kollegen/gerinnung_te_ae.html ). The present study was undertaken to determine the occurrence of postoperative hemorrhage on the one hand, and the incidence of abnormal preoperative routine coagulation parameters or pathological anamnesis findings on the other.
Patients and methods: In 688 patients, a standardized clinical history was obtained using a questionnaire. Coagulation screening included aPTT, PT, and PLC was also carried out. Bleeding complications were then correlated with anamnesis features and abnormalities in coagulation screening.
Results: In 39 (5.7%) of the 688 patients we found abnormal coagulation values, which were confirmed in repeated analyses. In six of these a detailed analysis revealed occult coagulation disorders requiring correction only in the case of bleeding complications who were previously unknown. Fifteen patients were already known to have a coagulation disorder, and the anamnesis identified no additional patient at risk. Thus, 21 patients with coagulation disorders requiring correction in the case of a bleeding complication underwent surgery. However, only eight (38%) of these showed abnormal routine coagulation parameters. Surgical treatment of postoperative hemorrhage was required in 12 patients, all of whom had normal values for aPTT, PT and PLC.
Conclusion: The frequently performed determination of routine coagulation parameters (aPTT, PT, PLC) is not able to reliably identify relevant coagulation disorders or to predict the risk for postoperative hemorrhagic complications after adenoidectomy or tonsillectomy.