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A tonsillectomy is the excision of one or both tonsils.


  • there is evidence from a study by Van Staaij and colleagues (1) that immediate surgery (adenotonsillectomy) did not reduce episodes of fever, throat infections, upper respiratory tract infections, and health related quality of life
    • study randomising 300 children aged 2-8 years with these symptoms to adenotonsillectomy or watchful waiting
    • median follow up period of 22 months
      • adenotonsillectomy was more effective in children who had three to six throat infections than in those who had up to two
      • twelve children had complications after surgery
    • Little, in a BMJ commentary, points out that a third of children initially treated medically required surgery (2)
      • this study provides evidence that immediate surgery is not effective, not that tonsillectomy in itself is ineffective, but more data are needed to optimise treatment (2)


  1. Van Staaij et al (2004). Effectiveness of adenotonsillectomy in children with mild symptoms of throat infections or adenotonsillar hypertrophy: open, randomised controlled trial. BMJ;329:651
  2. BMJ 2004; 329: 654

Last reviewed 01/2018