Objective: To perform a comprehensive narrative review of the literature to provide a better understanding of the indications, outcomes, and efficacy of tonsillectomy for recurrent sore throats in children. This article explores the reasons why there is a lack of robust clinical evidence for its efficacy despite good evidence of positive reported outcomes from parents of children who undergo the procedure.
Data sources: Articles published between 1960 and July 2013 were searched in PubMed and Cochrane databases.
Review methods: A narrative review method was adopted to provide a comprehensive overview of articles. Only individual, interventional studies on children (0-16 years old) undergoing tonsillectomy or adenotonsillectomy for recurrent sore throats with greater than 1 month of follow-up were included.
Conclusions: The inclusion criteria and outcome measures in the studies were varied, but most investigated changes in symptoms related to sore throats or illness episodes. Quality-of-life tools validated for measuring pediatric outcomes were used in a number of more recent studies. None of the outcome measures were specific for recurrent sore throats in children. No qualitative method designed studies were identified.
Implications for practice: The disparity between parental satisfaction rates and published clinical efficacy can be explained by a lack of parent/child outcome measures specific to tonsillectomy for recurrent sore throats. A more parent/child-centered approach may establish what tonsillectomy could offer this group of children.
Keywords: efficacy; indications; outcome measures; quality of life; tonsillectomy.