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To quantify the impact that mild to moderate tonsillitis has on quality of life in children and compare it to that of severe tonsillitis.
In this prospective study, parents of children aged 0–16 years completed the Paediatric Throat Disorders Outcome Test, and quality of life scores in the tonsillitis groups were compared.
A hundred children were recruited: 58 had severe tonsillitis and were offered surgery, and 42 had mild to moderate tonsillitis and were managed conservatively. The mean outcome test scores in those children undergoing surgery were 36.7 for tonsillectomy patients and 36.9 for adenotonsillectomy patients, compared with a score of 31.5 for the mild to moderate tonsillitis patients (p = 0.019).
Children with mild to moderate disease had significantly better quality of life scores than those with severe disease. It is thought that those with mild to moderate disease have short-term improvements in general quality of life after surgery, which disappear in the medium term. This transient improvement needs to be balanced against the morbidity of the surgery and the cost burden to the National Health Service. The results of this study support the national drive towards limiting tonsillectomy to children with severe tonsillitis or obstructive sleep apnoea.
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