High-Dose Celecoxib for Pain After Pediatric Tonsillectomy: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2023 Feb;168(2):218-226. doi: 10.1177/01945998221091695.


Objective: Pediatric tonsillectomy causes significant postoperative pain. Newer nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as celecoxib control pain without increasing bleeding risk, but in prior studies provided only modest pain reduction at standard doses. We aimed to determine if high-dose celecoxib (double the usual pediatric dose) is effective for pain, without increasing bleeding or other risks.

Study design: Randomized double-blind trial.

Setting: Pediatric tertiary center.

Methods: Children aged 3 to 11 years undergoing total tonsillectomy were randomized to receive celecoxib (6 mg/kg/dose) or placebo, twice daily, for up to 10 days. All cases were supplemented with acetaminophen and oxycodone as needed. All participants and personnel were blinded to treatment group. Subjects recorded coanalgesic consumption, pain, diet, and activity.

Results: The celecoxib group (n = 68) consumed 0.72 mg/kg of oxycodone, as compared with 1.12 mg/kg in the placebo group (n = 62), a 36% difference that was not significant. However, multivariate analysis by treatment group, separate from pain levels, confirmed that this reduction was due to celecoxib treatment (P = .03). In subjects with more prolonged pain (n = 88), celecoxib reduced consumption by 52% (P = .02). Celecoxib showed greater benefit for subjects in the prolonged pain group than for those in the lesser pain group (P = .006). Incidence of adverse events was similar between groups. Minor hemorrhage occurred in 4.6% (5 placebo, 3 celecoxib).

Conclusion: High-dose celecoxib is effective in controlling pain after tonsillectomy, with no adverse effects in this relatively small sample. It reduces narcotic consumption, and its impact appears greater in children with higher degrees of pain. Celecoxib can be considered an effective alternative to ibuprofen after tonsillectomy. This trial was registered at ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT02934191.

Keywords: analgesia; celecoxib; tonsillectomy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic* / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Celecoxib / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Oxycodone / therapeutic use
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy
  • Pain, Postoperative / prevention & control
  • Tonsillectomy* / adverse effects


  • Celecoxib
  • Oxycodone
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02934191