Indications for tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy

Laryngoscope. 2002 Aug;112(8 Pt 2 Suppl 100):6-10. doi: 10.1002/lary.5541121404.


Objective: To review recent clinical trials that provide a foundation on which clinicians can base decisions regarding adenotonsillar surgery for their patients.

Study design: Review.

Methods: An evidence-based approach was used to review recent clinical trials addressing indications for adenotonsillectomy, tonsillectomy, and adenoidectomy.

Results: Absolute indications for tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy include adenotonsillar hyperplasia with obstructive sleep apnea, failure to thrive, or abnormal dentofacial growth; suspicion of malignant disease; and (for tonsillectomy) hemorrhagic tonsillitis. Relative indications for both procedures are adenotonsillar hyperplasia with upper airway obstruction, dysphagia, or speech impairment, and halitosis. Otitis media and recurrent or chronic rhinosinusitis or adenoiditis are relative indications for adenoidectomy but not tonsillectomy. Recurrent or chronic pharyngotonsillitis, peritonsillar abscess, and streptococcal carriage are relative indications for tonsillectomy but not adenoidectomy.

Conclusion: Good clinical evidence regarding indications for tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy is available. Clinicians should make recommendations for surgery on the basis of this evidence.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenoidectomy / standards*
  • Adenoidectomy / trends
  • Airway Obstruction / diagnosis
  • Airway Obstruction / surgery
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Peritonsillar Abscess / diagnosis*
  • Peritonsillar Abscess / surgery*
  • Prognosis
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tonsillectomy / standards*
  • Tonsillectomy / trends
  • Tonsillitis / diagnosis*
  • Tonsillitis / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome