Intraoperative Cryoanalgesia for Reducing Post-Tonsillectomy Pain: A Systemic Review

Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2018 Jun;127(6):395-401. doi: 10.1177/0003489418772859.


Objective: Summarize the effectiveness of intraoperative cryoanalgesia in the management of postoperative pain among patients undergoing palatine tonsillectomy.

Methods: A systematic review of PubMED, MEDLINE, EMBASE, Google Scholar, and Cochrane trial registries was performed through January 2017 using the PRISMA standards. We included English-language randomized controlled trials evaluating patients of all age groups with benign pathology who underwent tonsillectomy with cryoanalgesia versus without.

Results: Three limited quality randomized controlled trials involving 153 participants (age range, 1-60 years) were included. Cryoanalgesia was performed with a cryotherapy probe (-56°C) in 1 trial and ice-water cooling (4°C to 10°C) in 2. In the 3 trials reviewed, patients who received cryoanalgesia reported 21.38%, 28.33%, and 31.53% less average relative postoperative pain than controls on the visual analog scale. Review of secondary outcomes suggested no significant difference in time to resume normal diet (2 studies) or postoperative bleeding (2 studies) between the 2 groups. Cryoanalgesia allowed patients to return to work 4 days earlier than controls in 1 study. Two studies reported a trend toward less postoperative analgesia use among the treatment group; however, no statistical conclusions could be drawn.

Conclusion: The available evidence suggests that patients undergoing tonsillectomy with cryoanalgesia experience less average postoperative pain without additional complications.

Keywords: cryosurgery; cryotherapy; human; palatine tonsil; postoperative pain; tonsillectomy.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cryotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Care*
  • Pain, Postoperative / etiology*
  • Pain, Postoperative / prevention & control*
  • Tonsillectomy / adverse effects*