Objective: To report trends in the indications for pediatric tonsillectomy or adenotonsillectomy.
Methods: To identify current indications, (1) a retrospective chart review analyzed all indications for procedures performed by a pediatric otolaryngologist on patients aged 0-3, 4-10, or 11-18 years, and (2) a cross-sectional survey to members of the American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngology asked for approximate percentages of children in the same age groups receiving procedures for obstruction, infection, or another indication. To assess changing indications over time, (3) a literature review was performed.
Results: (1) Chart review: 302 patients aged 5 months to 18 years (average: 6.34; median: 6) were analyzed. For the 0-3-year age group, obstruction was an indication in 100.0% of cases, and infection in 2.6%. For the 4-10-year age group: 91.9% and 13.4%, respectively. For the 11-18-year age group: 84.6% and 33.3%. (2) SURVEY: 120 surveys were returned (40% response rate), and 63 surveys were appropriate for analysis (21% completion rate). For the 0-3-year age group, obstruction was the primary indication in 91.8% of procedures and infection in 7.5%. For the 4-10-year age group: 73.2% and 25.3%, respectively. For the 11-18-year age group: 43.0% and 54.2%. (3) LITERATURE REVIEW: 11 articles consistently illustrated a rise in obstruction and a decline in infection as an indication since 1978.
Conclusions: Obstruction has become a more prominent indication than infection for pediatric tonsillectomy or adenotonsillectomy in children, especially younger children. Infection becomes a more prominent indication as age increases. Data may not be absolutely reflective of all pediatric otolaryngologists or other otolaryngologists that treat children. Comparing studies is difficult owing to the variety of surgical procedures focused upon and terms used to define indications.
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