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Post-thyroidectomy sore throat following endotracheal intubation


A. N. Hisham, Breast and Endocrine Surgical Unit, ­Department of Surgery, Kuala Lumpur Hospital, Jalan Pahang, 50586 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


Background:  Sore throat is not an uncommon complaint following general anaesthesia (GA) with endotracheal intubation. It has been a source of considerable discomfort particularly in those patients who had thyroid surgery. Driven by the increased number of patients with post-intubation sore throat following thyroid surgery, the aim of the present study was to evaluate the contributing factors of sore throat in patients who had thyroid surgery under general anaesthesia.

Methods:  A total of 57 consecutive patients who had thyroid surgery from November 1998 to April 1999 was included in this prospective study. Factors such as intubation time, number of intubation attempts, size and type of endotracheal tube (ETT) used, gender and age were recorded. The nature and extent of the surgical procedures were also studied. Postoperative symptoms were assessed by questionnaire on the day after surgery and the different parameters were compared and analysed.

Results:  The incidence of post-intubation sore throat following thyroid surgery was documented in 39 (68.4%) patients. Twenty-seven (47.4%) patients had a mild complaint of sore throat, which resolved after the third day. The data from the present study show that the size of ETT and extent of surgical procedure were significant contributing factors affecting the postoperative recovery.

Conclusion:  The outcome of the present study demonstrated a substantial increased incidence of sore throat after thyroid surgery under GA. Postoperative sore throat following thyroid surgery under GA may be caused by multiple contributing factors. Nonetheless effort and care should be taken during endotracheal intubation and surgery to reduce this unpleasant complaint arising mainly from pharyngeal irritation or trauma.