Predictors of postoperative sore throat in intubated children

Paediatr Anaesth. 2012 Mar;22(3):239-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9592.2011.03727.x. Epub 2011 Nov 8.


Background: The incidence of postoperative sore throat (POST) following intubation is not well defined in the pediatric population. The etiology is multifactorial and includes impairment of subglottic mucosal perfusion and edema as a result of the pressures exerted by cuffed or uncuffed tubes.

Aim: To determine the incidence of, and risk factors for, POST in intubated children undergoing elective day-case surgery.

Methods: Five hundred patients aged 3-16 years were studied prospectively. Endotracheal tube (ETT) choice (cuffed or uncuffed) was left to the anesthetist. The cuff was inflated either until loss of audible leak or to a determined pressure using a cuff manometer. The research team then measured the cuff pressure (CP). POST incidence and intensity was determined by interviewing patients prior to discharge from the same day procedure unit. Chi-square testing and stepwise logistic regression were used to determine the predictors of POST.

Results: Of the 111 (22%) children developed a sore throat, 19 (3.8%) a sore neck, and 5 (1%) a sore jaw. 19% of patients with cuffed ETTs complained of sore throat compared with 37% of those intubated with an uncuffed ETT. The incidence of POST increased with CP; 0-10% at 0 cmH(2)O, 4% at 11-20 cmH(2)O, 20% at 21-30 cmH(2)O, 68% at CP 31-40 cmH(2)O, and 96% at CP >40 cmH(2)O. The ETT CP and use of uncuffed ETTs were univariate predictors of POST.

Conclusions: Children intubated with uncuffed ETTs are more likely to have POST. ETT CP is positively correlated with the incidence of POST. When using cuffed ETTs, CP should be routinely measured intraoperatively.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Air Pressure
  • Airway Management
  • Ambulatory Surgical Procedures
  • Anesthesia
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Manometry
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pharyngitis / epidemiology*
  • Pharyngitis / etiology*
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors