You are here:

Anesthesiology/Sore throat & swollen uvula following clavicle plate fixation surgery


On Saturday (05.01) I had an operation to fix a plate in my left collar bone as it was badly broken (UK). The following day my throat was hurting and my uvula was swollen and discoloured (black, white and red) but I was able to eat and drink, with mild pain. However, from Monday my throat has been very sore to the point that eating is almost too painful to do. I was sick on Monday morning, still unsure why, possibly due to painkillers I'd been taking. I think this may have agitated my throat more but it is still so painful I struggle to eat, even after spraying my throat with an anaesthetic spray. My uvula is still swollen and the bottom half of it is white. it rests on my tongue which is uncomfortable. The sore throat also gives me a constant headache which doesn't go away with ibuprofen or paracetamol and the soreness also wakes me at night due to the pain when breathing/swallowing. How long should I expect this to last? Is this normal? I will sit it out if it is normal and nothing to worry about but I'm concerned as it hasn't got any better since the op, in fact the pain has become more severe! Your advice would be greatly appreciated.
Many thanks.

It can occur that during an anesthetic the breathing tube used during the case can apply pressure to certain parts of the throat depending on how it sits.  This can cause decreased blood flow and damage to the tissues.  The severity of this damage depends on the amount of pressure and the duration of the anesthetic.  In many cases, patients have a mild sore throat after anesthesia from the breathing tube, but this type of problem is at worst annoying and usually improves over 24 hours.  

A white discoloration is not normal for the uvula.  This may represent an infection, perhaps fungal.  It is hard to say not seeing it.  Infants. This is what you might see in an infant (thrush).  At any rate, if your throat has not noticeably improved by now, you probably should see your doctor to rule out an infectious cause of your pain (although this is not common).

If your throat (uvula)suffered severe compression and did not receive enough blood flow, some of the cells in the structure may have died, causing the discoloration, swelling and pain.  Other than careful monitoring of this, there is no specific treatment.  Steroid can help if the swelling is severe and causing difficulty with breathing or swallowing.  They would probably need to be prescribed by a physician.  Otherwise, eating soft foods, painkillers such as those you mentioned, and cool liquids are probably best.

I hope your condition improves quickly and am sorry you experienced this untoward event.

Dr. Russell


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Rex Russell


Any question dealing with general anesthesia issues. With particular emphasis on regional anesthesia.


I am a board certified anesthesiologist, graduated from residency in 2004 from Johns Hopkins Hospital. I have since worked as an anesthesiologist first in the Air Force for three years and then most recently in Texas in Private Practice.

Texas Medical Association Texas society of Anesthesiologists American Society of Anesthesiologists

BS, BYU MD, U of Texas, Galveston Intern-St. Joe's Hospital, Phx, AZ Internal Medicine Residency-Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD

©2016 All rights reserved.