Unusual complications of tonsillectomy: a systematic review
Aims: Common complications of tonsillectomy are well recognized and are frequently explained to patients during the process of informed consent. This systematic review serves as a reminder of the unusual complications of this routine procedure. Methods: Studies were located using systematic searches in Medline, Embase, Cinah1, and the Cochrane Library electronic databases, together with hand searching of key texts, references, and reviews relevant to the field. Keywords used included the terms tonsillectomy, complications, unusual, and rare. References from the relevant articles were also searched for. Inclusion criteria: The review was limited to English-language articles. Because of the low incidence of these complications, all cases were included regardless of age. Exclusion criteria: Complications of tonsillectomy in children with various syndromes were excluded. Results: Based on our criteria, 20 articles were identified. Only 10 articles were found suitable for review. All articles were either single case reports or small case series. Because of the small study cohort, the patients' ages ranged widely, from 3 to 21 years, with no sex dominance. The complications were categorized into intraoperative and immediate postoperative (<24 hours), intermediate (<2 weeks), and long-term (>2 weeks) unusual complications. Rare complications reviewed include intraoperative vascular injury, subcutaneous emphysema, mediastinitis, Eagle syndrome, atlantoaxial subluxation, cervical osteomyelitis, and taste disorders. Conclusions: It is important that the otolaryngologist is aware that although the complications discussed are rare and interesting, they are associated with significant morbidity and mortality risks. Tonsillectomy, a very common ear, nose, and throat procedure, may not be so straightforward after all. (C) 2007 Published by Elsevier Inc.