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Does tonsillectomy lead to improved outcomes over and above the effect of time? A longitudinal study

  • R Fox (a1), M Temple (a2), D Owens (a3), A Short (a4) and A Tomkinson (a5)...



To determine the effect of tonsillectomy on morbidity in patients listed for tonsillectomy.


Questionnaire survey of 257 children and 159 adults who had been listed for tonsillectomy. The cohort studied had experienced delays of greater than 12 months between being listed for tonsillectomy and undergoing surgery. They had responded to an earlier questionnaire in 2003 regarding morbidity experienced while waiting for surgery. The same questionnaire was presented to them again in 2005. Morbidity experienced in 2003 was compared to that experienced in 2005 in subjects who had and had not proceeded to surgery in the interval.


Forty-seven per cent of the cohort had undergone tonsillectomy. The questionnaire response rate was 48 per cent. Respondents reported less morbidity in 2005 than in 2003, whether or not they had had surgery. Respondents who had undergone tonsillectomy reported significantly greater reductions in morbidity than those who had not. Five per cent of children who had undergone tonsillectomy experienced at least three short episodes of tonsillitis in the six months before the questionnaire, compared with 35 per cent of those who had not undergone tonsillectomy (p < 0.001).


The morbidity reported by patients suffering from chronic, untreated tonsillitis decreases with time. Tonsillectomy produces significantly greater reductions in morbidity than time alone.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Dr R Fox, 18 Cathedral Rd, Cardiff CF11 9LJ, Wales, UK. Fax: 02920 787 800 E-mail:


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2 van Staaij, BK, van den Akker, EH, Rovers, MM, Hordijk, GJ, Hoes, AW, Schildre, AGM. Effectiveness of adenotonsillectomy in children with mild symptoms of throat infections or adenotonsillar hypertophy: open, randomised controlled trial. BMJ 2004;329:651–4
3 Little, P. Watchful waiting is useful for children with recurrent throat infections. BMJ 2004;329:654
4 Marshall, T. A review of tonsillectomy for recurrent throat infecton. Br. J. Gen. Pract 1998;48:1331–5
5 Paradise, JL. Effectiveness of tonsillectomy depends on stringency of indications. Arch Dis Child 2005;90:13181319
6 Fox, R, Tomkinson, A, Myers, P. Morbidity in patients waiting for tonsillectomy in Cardiff: a cross-sectional study. J Laryngol Otol 2006;120:214–18
7 Drane, JW. Imputing non-responses to mail-back questionnaires. Am J Epidemiol 1991;134:908–12


Does tonsillectomy lead to improved outcomes over and above the effect of time? A longitudinal study

  • R Fox (a1), M Temple (a2), D Owens (a3), A Short (a4) and A Tomkinson (a5)...


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