The effect of antibiotics on post-adenotonsillectomy morbidity in Tanzanian children: study protocol for a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

Denis R. Katundu, Peter S. Shija, Baltazari Nyombi, Hadija Semvua, Fieke K. Oussoren & Niels van
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Adenotonsillectomy is the most frequently performed operation in children worldwide. For decades, prophylactic antibiotics have been prescribed to limit postoperative complications. The effect of this antibiotic use has been refuted in a Cochrane Review. However, all reviewed studies were carried out in developed countries. In Tanzania, like many other developing countries with limited resources and a high burden of infectious diseases, postoperative antibiotic prescription is still very common to decrease the supposed higher postoperative morbidity. However, as a consequence of this widespread use of postoperative antibiotics, cross-resistance and risk of allergic side effects rise. Well-designed randomized controlled trials are needed to limit unnecessary antibiotic prescription and secondary antibiotic resistance.


The aim of this study is to analyse the prophylactic role of postoperative antibiotics on morbidity following adenotonsillectomy in children in Tanzania.


The double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled trial was set in northern Tanzania. Participating centres are the Department of Otolaryngology at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre in Moshi and the Department of Paediatric Surgery at the Arusha Lutheran Medical Centre in Arusha.


Around 270 children aged 2–14 years, all scheduled for elective (adeno)tonsillectomy, will be included and assigned to receive either a standard regimen of 5 days of antibiotic prophylaxis or placebo after surgery. The primary outcomes are postoperative haemorrhage, fever and pain. Secondary outcomes are the time until normal diet is resumed, the time until normal activities are resumed and the occurrence of adverse events and microbial recolonization of the tonsillar beds.


This study will enhance an increase of proper antimicrobial prescription in Tanzanian institutions as well as other resource-limited countries where prescription of antibiotics is still very common. In addition, it might augment current knowledge about surface and core tonsillar micro-organisms and sensitivity patterns.