Adenotonsillectomy in children with sickle cell disease

South Med J. 1991 Feb;84(2):205-8. doi: 10.1097/00007611-199102000-00013.


The pediatric patient with sickle cell disease risks having a vasoocclusive episode during adenotonsillectomy under general anesthesia. With proper patient selection and appropriate perioperative management, adenotonsillectomy can be accomplished safely in children with sickle cell disease. We review the management of 10 children with sickle hemoglobinopathies who had adenotonsillectomy. Indications for surgery were recurrent streptococcal infections in four and obstructive sleep apnea in six of these children. No complications resulted from any of these procedures, and the mean length of postoperative hospitalization was 2.4 days. The principal feature of preoperative management was the transfusion of red blood cells to suppress the patient's endogenous erythropoiesis and to reduce the concentration of sickle cell hemoglobin to less than 30%. Though a prospective, multi-institutional clinical trial will ultimately be required to settle the issue of the safest preoperative management of children with sickle cell disease, balancing the risks of transfusion-related complications against anesthesia-related complications, our experience supports the operative safety of hypertransfusion therapy in children with sickle cell disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoidectomy*
  • Adolescent
  • Airway Obstruction / surgery
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / complications*
  • Anesthesia, General
  • Blood Transfusion
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Erythrocyte Transfusion
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Preoperative Care
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Streptococcal Infections / surgery
  • Tonsillectomy*
  • Tonsillitis / surgery