Postoperative hemorrhage after transoral oropharyngectomy for cancer of the lateral oropharynx

Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2015 May;124(5):361-7. doi: 10.1177/0003489414558109. Epub 2014 Nov 10.


Objective: Assessment of incidence, risk factors, management, and outcome of postoperative hemorrhage after transoral oropharyngectomy for cancer of the lateral oropharynx.

Methods: Retrospective review of a cohort of 514 cancers of the lateral oropharynx consecutively resected.

Results: Incidence of postoperative hemorrhage was 3.6%. In 31.5% of cases, onset was after hospital discharge. No hemorrhages occurred after the end of the fourth postoperative week. Variables associated with increased risk of hemorrhage were advanced age (P=.004), antithrombotic treatment (P=.012), and robotic assistance (P=.009). When the source of hemorrhage could be identified, hemostasis, performed transorally in most cases, was highly effective; no patients in this subgroup showed recurrence. In spontaneously resolved hemorrhage under observation or when no active site of bleeding was found on exploration under general anesthesia, the recurrence rate was 18.1%. Overall, hemorrhage resulted in death in 2 patients.

Conclusion: Exploration under general anesthesia in case of active bleeding and observation with discussion of arterial exploration of the ipsilateral external carotid system in patients in whom no source of bleeding can be identified are the keys to successful management of this potentially lethal complication.

Keywords: bleeding; cancer; complication; hemorrhage; oropharyngectomy; oropharynx.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Natural Orifice Endoscopic Surgery / adverse effects*
  • Oropharyngeal Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Pharyngectomy / adverse effects*
  • Pharyngectomy / methods
  • Postoperative Hemorrhage / diagnosis
  • Postoperative Hemorrhage / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Hemorrhage / etiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Survival Rate / trends