During 2008, ENT-UK received a number of professional enquiries from colleagues about the management of children with upper airway obstruction and uncomplicated obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). These children with sleep-related breathing disorders (SRBDs) are usually referred to paediatricians and ENT surgeons.
In some district general hospitals, (DGHs) where paediatric intensive care (PICU) facilities to ventilate children were not available, paediatrician and anaesthetist colleagues were expressing concern about children with a clinical diagnosis of OSA having routine tonsillectomy, with or without adenoidectomy.
As BAPO President, I was asked by the ENT-UK President, Professor Richard Ramsden, to investigate the issues and rapidly develop a working consensus statement to support safe but local treatment of these children.
The Royal Colleges of Anaesthetists and Paediatrics and Child Health and the Association of Paediatric Anaesthetists nominated expert members from both secondary and tertiary care to contribute and develop a consensus statement based on the limited evidence base available.
Our terms of reference were to produce a statement that was brief, with a limited number of references, to inform decision-making at the present time.
With patient safety as the first priority, the working party wished to support practice that facilitated referral to a tertiary centre of those children who could be expected, on clinical assessment alone, potentially to require PICU facilities. In contrast, the majority of children who could be safely managed in a secondary care setting should be managed closer to home in a DGH.
BAPO, ENT-UK, APA, RCS-CSF and RCoA have endorsed the consensus statement; the RCPCH has no mechanism for endorsing consensus statements, but the RCPCH Clinical Effectiveness Committee reviewed the statement, concluding it was a ‘concise, accurate and helpful document’.
The consensus statement is an interim working tool, based on level-five evidence. It is intended as the starting point to catalyze further development towards a fully structured, evidence-based guideline; to this end, feedback and comment are welcomed. This and the constructive feedback from APA and RCPCH will be incorporated into a future guideline proposal.