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The use of throat packs in ear, nose and throat, oral and dental surgery: a systematic review

Volume: 58 - Issue: 4

First page: 306 - Last page: 313

C.R. Anderson - Y. Premakumar - A.V. Navaratnam - M. Rouhani - A. Singh

BACKGROUND: Throat packs are placed around the airway in patients undergoing upper airway surgical procedures under general anaesthetic to prevent aspiration or ingestion of blood, and consequent chest infections or postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV). There is no definitive evidence for this, and each time a pack is placed, it risks being retained and obstructing the upper airway. This study aimed to determine whether throat packs are of benefit to patients undergoing upper airway surgical procedures.
METHODS: Medline, Embase and Central were searched from conception to 15th January 2018 using individualised search strategies. A systematic search of multiple databases was undertaken using custom strategies to identify all relevant randomised controlled trials. Screening, risk of bias assessment and data extraction were undertaken independently by two authors. Primary outcomes included throat pain and PONV. Secondary outcomes included any adverse event documented.
RESULTS: Thirteen papers were eligible for inclusion. No studies reported any instances of retained throat packs. Ten studies assessed the effect of throat packs on post-operative throat pain, with four papers showing a significantly higher incidence of pain when throat packs were used. One study showed throat pain to be slightly, but significantly, worse 24 hours post-surgery when a pack was not used. No paper showed throat packs to be of benefit in preventing PONV.
CONCLUSION: The study was limited by methodological flaws of included trials, overall relatively low numbers of patients and difficulty in contacting authors to clarify information and obtain raw data. However, this systematic review found no evidence to support the use of throat packs. This supports the proposal that there is no indication for the routine use of throat packs in ENT, maxillofacial and dental procedures.

C.R. Anderson - Y. Premakumar - A.V. Navaratnam - M. Rouhani - A. Singh - The use of throat packs in ear, nose and throat, oral and dental surgery: a systematic review

Rhinology 58-4: 306-313, 2020