Tonsilloplasty versus tonsillectomy in children with sleep-disordered breathing: short- and long-term outcomes

Laryngoscope. 2013 May;123(5):1294-9. doi: 10.1002/lary.23860. Epub 2012 Dec 19.


Objectives/hypothesis: Adenoidectomy and tonsillectomy (TE) is the standard treatment for obstructive sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) in children with adenotonsillar hypertrophy. Tonsilloplasty (TP) is a new surgical technique that includes partial TE. The purpose of this study was to assess the short- and long-term outcomes of TP compared to TE.

Study design: A comparison study.

Methods: Children with SDB and tonsillar hypertrophy underwent TP or TE. The two groups were compared regarding immediate postoperative course and long-term effects.

Results: Fifty-one children (age, 6.3 ± 2.5 years) underwent TE, and 50 children (age, 5.9 ± 2.1 years) had TP. The TP group had significantly less intraoperative bleeding compared to the TE group (25.6 ± 8.2 vs. 38.3 ± 12.3 mL, P < .001). Subjects with TP were pain free earlier than children with TE (4.5 ± 0.4 vs. 7.7 ± 0.4 days, P < .001) and returned to a normal diet sooner (3.8 ± 0.2 vs. 7.1 ± 0.3 days, P < .001). By the 3rd to 4th postoperative night, upper airway obstruction was relieved in all participants. Six years postoperatively, 48 of 51 children in the TE group and 43 of 50 children in the TP group participated in a telephone survey. No significant differences were found between the two groups regarding the frequency of recurrent snoring (30.2% in TP vs. 25% in TE), apneas (4.7% vs. 0%), and upper airway infections per year (P > .05).

Conclusions: TP is an alternative surgical method for treatment of SDB related to tonsillar hypertrophy with favorable postoperative course and comparable long-term results.

Level of evidence: 2c.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Palatine Tonsil / surgery*
  • Reconstructive Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / surgery*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Tonsillectomy / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome