A 6-year-old girl with a history of asthma and chronic adenotonsillitis was referred to a surgeon and scheduled for a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. She was in otherwise good health, had never received anesthesia in the past, and was experiencing no acute symptoms at the time of surgery. After an uneventful surgical procedure, the patient was rapidly extubated with spontaneous ventilation and stable vital signs. Within an hour, however, the patient became hypoxic with an inability to ventilate spontaneously, and required reintubation. The etiology of the need for reintubation was unclear but thought to be related to sedation and analgesia administered during and after the case. The patient ultimately recovered with no additional complications and was discharged home with her parents.
Because of the reintubation, the case generated additional review and discussion, including concerns expressed by the parents about the safety of what they believed was a routine surgical procedure done on children every day.
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