This study aimed to measure changes in disease-specific quality of life in children following tonsillectomy or adenotonsillectomy.
A multicentre prospective cohort study was performed involving seven ENT departments in England. A total of 276 children entered the study over a 2-month period: 107 underwent tonsillectomy and 128 adenotonsillectomy. Forty-one children referred with throat problems initially managed by watchful waiting were also recruited. The follow-up period was 12 months. Outcome measures were the T14, parental impressions of their child's quality of life and the number of days absent from school.
One-year follow-up data were obtained from 150 patients (52 per cent). The mean baseline T14 score in the non-surgical group was significantly lower (T14 = 23) than in the tonsillectomy group (T14 = 31) or the adenotonsillectomy group (T14 = 35; p < 0.001). There was a significant improvement in the T14 scores of responders in all groups at follow up. The effect size was 1.3 standard deviations (SD) for the non-surgical group, 2.1 SD for the tonsillectomy group and 1.9 SD for the adenotonsillectomy group. Between-group differences did not reach statistical significance. A third of children in the non-surgical group underwent surgery during the follow-up period.
Children who underwent surgical intervention achieved a significant improvement in disease-specific quality of life. Less severely affected children were managed conservatively and also improved over 12 months, but 1 in 3 crossed over to surgical intervention.