Take out the tonsils? New study weighs in

TonsilsIf you are considering a tonsillectomy for your child but wondering whether it would be better to take a “wait and see” approach, two recent studies by the American Academy of Pediatrics might help with your decision.

The first study, “Tonsillectomy Versus Watchful Waiting for Recurrent Throat Infection: A Systematic Review,” found that throat infections, health care visits and school absences improved in the first year after surgery in children who had tonsillectomy's versus children who did not. During the first year after surgery, the tonsillectomy group had 1.74 episodes of sore throat or throat infection compared to 2.93 episodes for those who did not undergo surgery.

These benefits, however, did not to persist over time, the study concluded. The study authors also stated that long-term outcomes were limited.

“Additional research to assess longer-term benefits of tonsillectomy compared with no surgery, as well as subgroups of children who may experience greater benefits, is needed to inform decision-making for caregivers and clinicians,” the study authors stated.

The second study, “Tonsillectomy for Obstructive Sleep-Disordered Breathing: A Meta-analysis,” concluded that better sleep-related outcomes were found in children who had a tonsillectomy over those who did not.

Currently, the most common cause for tonsillectomy is for obstructive sleep-disordered breathing which includes snoring, obstructive sleep apnea and upper airway resistance syndrome.

Sleep-related quality of life and negative behaviors such as anxiety and emotional issues also improved more among children who had a tonsillectomy than those who did not, according to the study.

Authors of the second study also concluded, however, that data were lacking to determine the different outcomes over an extended period of time.


By Betsy Stein