Tonsillectomy vs. partial tonsillectomy for OSAS in children--10 years post-surgery follow-up

Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2009 May;73(5):637-40. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2008.12.012. Epub 2009 Jan 22.


Background: Today, obstructive hypertrophic tonsils are completely resected to remove the obstruction. Since tonsillar tissue has important protective characteristics, it is more logical to resect only the obstructive tonsillar tissue and leave remnants in the tonsillar beds, thereby presuming to preserve the immunological function of the tonsillar tissue. However, it is as yet unclear whether or not rehypertrophy of this remnant of the tonsils and/or tonsillitis reoccur in the long-term.

Objectives: To evaluate the remnants of the tonsils 10-14 years post-tonsillotomy in children who suffered from obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) due to obstructive tonsils.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective study, telephone survey and selective physical examination of 33 children who had obstructive hypertrophic tonsils (suffered from OSAS due to hypertrophic tonsils), and underwent tonsillotomy (TT) at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center between July 1990 and April 1993, and compared them with a group of 16 children treated by tonsillectomy (TE) for the same diagnosis.

Results: No statistically significant difference was found between the TT and TE groups in all parameters compared: non-obstructing tonsils recurred (97% vs. 87%); snoring (3% vs. 12.5%); recurrent tonsillitis (6% vs. 6.25%); and recurrent obstruction and unilateral enlargement (3% vs. 12.5%).

Conclusions: TT is as effective as TE for the long-term treatment of children suffering from OSAS due to hypertrophic tonsils.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoidectomy
  • Adenoids / pathology*
  • Adenoids / surgery*
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy / complications
  • Hypertrophy / pathology
  • Hypertrophy / surgery
  • Infant
  • Lymphoid Tissue / pathology
  • Lymphoid Tissue / surgery
  • Male
  • Palatine Tonsil / pathology*
  • Palatine Tonsil / surgery*
  • Postoperative Period
  • Recurrence
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnosis*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / etiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Tonsillectomy / methods*