A randomized clinical trial of a nurse telephone follow-up on paediatric tonsillectomy pain management and complications


  • Trial registration number: The trial was registered with the United States National Institutes of Health Clinical Trials Register (NCT 01568372).

Correspondence to S. Le May:

e-mail: sylvie.lemay@umontreal.ca



To determine the effect of a nurse telephone follow-up on paediatric post-tonsillectomy pain intensity, complications, and use of other healthcare services.


After tonsillectomy, children experience moderate-to-severe pain for days. Parents tend to give insufficient analgesia, with resulting increases in pain and postoperative complications. In adults, nurse telephone follow-up for ambulatory surgeries reduces postoperative pain.


The study design was a randomized clinical trial.


In this trial, children aged 4–12 years undergoing elective tonsillectomy in June–October 2010 were assigned to a nurse telephone follow-up with parents on postoperative days 1, 3, 5 and 10, or standard care with no follow-up but data collection. Outcomes included pain intensity, analgesics administered, complications, and healthcare use.


Of 45 participants, the intervention group (= 24) received more analgesics on postoperative days 1 and 3, increased their fluid intake at days 1 and 3, but had more constipation at day 3 than the control group (= 21). There was no significant difference regarding pain intensity or use of healthcare resources.


Nurse telephone follow-up was beneficial for some pain management and prevention of complications, although better analgesic treatments are needed. The intervention was simple, safe, and appreciated by parents.