Tonsillectomy boosts quality of life: studies

For children and adults who suffer repeated bouts of tonsillitis, surgery to remove the tonsils (tonsillectomy) leads to substantial improvements in quality of life, according to results of two studies published this month.

In one study, researchers surveyed the parents of 92 children with recurrent tonsillitis before tonsillectomy as well as 6 months and 1 year after the surgery. The researchers defined recurrent tonsillitis as three or more tonsil infections in the span of one year. Follow-up data were available for 58 children at 6 months and 38 children at 1 year.

The children, whose average age was 10.6 years, showed “significant improvements” in a validated disease-specific quality of life instrument, Dr. Nira A. Goldstein, of the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, told Reuters Health. For example, clearcut improvements were seen in airway and breathing, eating and swallowing, behavior, rates of infection and use of health care resources.

The children also showed significant improvements in their general health perceptions, and social and physical functioning. “Parents also reported significantly fewer sore throats, antibiotic courses, and doctor visits,” Goldstein noted, as well as days missed from daycare or school and persistent bad breath.

Similarly positive changes in quality of life were seen in a study of 72 adults with recurrent or chronic tonsillitis who completed quality of life surveys before and 6 months and 1 year after tonsillectomy.

Moreover, 98 percent of the adults reported fewer infections in the 6 months following tonsillectomy and 77 percent expressed strong satisfaction with the outcome of the surgery, Dr. David L. Witsell of Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina, and colleagues report.

The adults also reported fewer cases of persistent bad breath, sore throats, and doctor visits due to sore throat. Tonsillectomy boosts quality of life: studies

Tonsillectomy is one of the most frequently performed surgical procedures in children, and while the number of tonsillectomies performed in adults is lower, it is still a routine operation.

Dr. Michael G. Stewart from Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, who was not involved in either study, says these studies are “important contributions and they add to our understanding of the impact of tonsillectomy in patients with recurrent tonsillitis.”

SOURCE: Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, January 2008.

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