Reflux as a Risk Factor for Morbidity after Pediatric Tonsillectomy: A National Cohort of Inpatients

Stephen R. Chorney, Karen B. Zur, Adva Buzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) has been identified as a risk factor for complications following pediatric tonsillectomy. The primary objective of this study was to examine outcomes after tonsillectomy among children with GER using a nationwide database. Secondary objectives included analyzing duration of hospitalization and total charges after admission. Methods: A cross-sectional review of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) Kids' Inpatient Databases (KID) from 2012 and 2016. Results: A total of 21,232 children had a tonsillectomy with or without adenoidectomy, with 1683 (7.9%) diagnosed with GER. Average age for patients with reflux was 4.4 years and for those without was 5.6 years (P <.001). The rate of primary hemorrhage was not statistically different between groups (P =.87). Patients with reflux were more likely to have respiratory complications (P =.03), aspiration pneumonitis (P <.001), and hypoxemia (P <.001) during their hospital course. Noninvasive ventilation and reintubation also occurred more frequently in this population (P <.001). Children with reflux had a longer duration of postoperative admission (3.8 vs. 2.3 days, P <.001) and higher total hospital charges ($47,129 vs. $27,584, P <.001). Multivariable regression analysis determined that reflux remained a statistically significant indicator of aspiration pneumonitis, hypoxemia, invasive and non-invasive ventilation, as well as length of admission. Conclusion: Children with GER were significantly more likely to experience inpatient complications following tonsillectomy. Further, length of admission was higher compared to children without reflux. These results suggest that children with GER experience poorer outcomes after tonsillectomy and highlight the role for appropriate preoperative counseling and planning in this patient population. Laryngoscope, 131:907–910, 2021.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)907-910
Number of pages4
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Gastroesophageal reflux, hospital admission, morbidity, pediatrics, respiratory complications, tonsillectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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