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Most tonsillectomies 'unnecessary'

Tuesday November 6th, 2018

Most tonsillectomies carried out in the UK are probably unnecessary, a new study reveals today.

The conclusion follows a study of electronic medical records of more than 1.5 million children who underwent the procedure between 2005 and 2015.

Researchers at the University of Birmingham, led by Dr Dana Šumilo, measured the number of children undergoing tonsillectomy and examined the data to see if the procedures were carried out in line with established, evidence-based international criteria for the operation.

They conclude that 32,500 out of the 37,000 tonsillectomies conducted annually during the study period were unlikely to benefit the children.

They found that many tonsillectomies were performed for non-evidence-based indications.

They also identified children who met the criteria for tonsillectomy but who had never had the operation. Out of 15,000 children who met the criteria through persistent sore throats, only 2,000 underwent the procedure.

Professor Tom Marshall, professor of public health and primary care at the university, said: "Children may be more harmed than helped by a tonsillectomy. We found that even among severely affected children only a tiny minority have ever had their tonsils out.

“It makes you wonder if tonsillectomy is ever really essential in any child."

Šumilo D, Nichols L, Ryan R et al. Incidence of Indications for tonsillectomy and frequency of evidence-based surgery. British Journal of General Practice 6 November 2018; doi: 10.3399/bjgp18X699833.

https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgp18X699833

Tags: Child Health | NHS | Respiratory | UK News

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