Persistent taste disturbance is a rare complication after tonsillectomy and mainly documented by case reports or a few retrospective and prospective trials with a limited number of patients. None could clarify frequency, time course, or prognosis of long-lasting dysgeusia after tonsillectomy. The aim of the study was to provide a symptom-based follow-up after tonsillectomy to assess postoperative taste disorders.
Prospective clinical trial.
From December 2007 to June 2009 adult patients undergoing tonsillectomy were asked to take part in the trial. Two hundred twenty-three patients (119 female, 104 male; mean age, 33 ± 13 years) were included. The day prior to surgery, and 2 weeks and 6 months after tonsillectomy a standardized questionnaire was completed by patients. The questionnaire focused on taste function, taste disorders, pain, foreign body sensation, and bleeding episodes after tonsillectomy.
One hundred eighty-eight (2 weeks) and 181 (6 months) patients returned the questionnaires. Thirty-two percent (n = 60) of patients reported taste disorders after tonsillectomy 2 weeks postoperatively and 15 patients (8%) at 6-month follow-up. Metallic and bitter parageusia were most frequently reported. The mean ratings of gustatory function were significantly lower 2 weeks after surgery (P < .001) and reached preoperative values 6 months after surgery. Almost 30% of patients reported postoperative bleeding, 10% long-lasting postoperative pain, and 20% foreign body sensation.
Long-lasting taste disturbance (metallic and bitter parageusia) after tonsillectomy is more frequent than previously reported. Long-lasting pain and foreign body sensation seem to be common symptoms. With regard to these results, a thorough preoperative explanation is mandatory. Laryngoscope, 2010