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Removing tonsils may not be helpful

Surgery to remove offending tissues in children having mild throat infections, enlarged tonsils or adenoids offers no major benefit.

Removing tonsils may not be helpful

Surgery to remove offending tissues in children having mild throat infections, enlarged tonsils or enlarged adenoids offers no major clinical benefits.Researchers from the University Medical Center, Utrecht, conducted a study of 300 children who were candidates for adeno-tonsillectomy because of recurrent throat infections or because they had enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids. The kids were randomly assigned to undergo surgery or be followed with a watchful waiting strategy. After an average follow-up of 22 months, the number of fever episodes in the surgery group was nearly the same as in the watchful waiting group. Subjects in the surgery and watchful waiting groups averaged 0.6 and 0.8 throat infections per person per year, respectively.
Though the improvements in quality of life were significantly seen with tonsillectomy from a statistical standpoint, but they were not considered clinically relevant. There was also evidence that surgery was more effective for children with three to six throat infections per year, rather than two or fewer.
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The results of the study indicate that surgery offers little benefit to children, but it does marginally reduce the number of episodes of fever, throat infections, and upper respiratory tract infections per person year.
British Medical Journal,
September 2004
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