Magnesium sulfate for postoperative complications in children undergoing tonsillectomies: a systematic review and meta-analysis

J Evid Based Med. 2017 Feb;10(1):16-25. doi: 10.1111/jebm.12230.


Objective: Previous systematical reviews showed that systemic magnesium decreased postoperative pain and reduced morphine use without any reported serious adverse effects in adults. However, studies in children yielded different results. So we conducted a systematic review to evaluate the impact of magnesium sulfate on postoperative complications in children undergoing tonsillectomies.

Methods: The PubMed, EMbase via OVID, CENTRAL, and WHO ICTRP were searched to identify randomized controlled trials that addressed the effect of magnesium for postoperative pain, agitation, and complications in children undergoing tonsillectomies. Two reviewers screened titles and abstracts for eligibility and assessed the quality of the included studies. The meta-analysis was performed using RevMan 5.3.

Results: Ten randomized controlled trials involving 665 participates published between 2003 and 2015 were included. Eight studies showed no different effect on pain scores between MgSO4 and control groups. Two studies showed significant lower emergence agitation incidence in MgSO4 group (pooled OR = 0.18, 95% CI 0.07 to 0.48, P = 0.0006). Five studies showed rescue analgesia was reduced in MgSO4 group (RR = 0.53, 95% CI 0.31 to 0.91, P = 0.02). Laryngospasm was founded lower in MgSO4 group (OR = 0.36, 95% CI 0.13 to 0.96, P = 0.04). Postoperative nausea and vomiting was found no difference between two groups (OR = 1.23, 95% CI 0.70 to 2.18, P = 0.47).

Conclusion: Unlike the studies in adults, this review shows there is no statistically significant effect of perioperative use of magnesium in the postoperative pain control in children undergoing tonsillectomies. But it seems has benefits in reducing rescue analgesia, emergence agitation incidence, and laryngospasm.

Keywords: Emergence agitation; laryngospasm; magnesium sulfate; postsurgical pain; tonsillectomies.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergence Delirium / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Magnesium Sulfate / therapeutic use*
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy
  • Postoperative Complications / drug therapy*
  • Publication Bias
  • Tonsillectomy / adverse effects*


  • Magnesium Sulfate