Impact of tonsillectomy on health-related quality of life and healthcare costs in children and adolescents

Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2014 Sep;78(9):1508-12. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2014.06.021. Epub 2014 Jun 23.


Background: Tonsillectomy is a common surgical intervention in children, but its efficacy is under debate. We studied whether tonsillectomy is a cost-effective intervention with a positive impact on health-related quality of life (HRQoL).

Methods: Children (aged 7-11 years) and adolescents (aged 12-15 years) undergoing tonsillectomy answered the 17D or 16D HRQoL questionnaires before tonsillectomy and at 6 and 12 months postoperatively. At the same time-points, data on the use of healthcare services and school absenteeism were collected by questionnaire.

Results: Altogether 49 children and 42 adolescents returned all HRQoL questionnaires. Tonsillectomy improved the mean total HRQoL score clinically and statistically significantly in both children (from 0.935 at baseline to 0.958 at 12 months, p = 0.002) and adolescents (from 0.930 to 0.957, p = 0.004). The mean direct self-reported healthcare service costs diminished after tonsillectomy in both groups. The mean number of days on sick leave due to oropharyngeal problems during the preceding 3 months decreased from the preoperative 4.6 days to postoperative 0.5 days (p < 0.001) in children, and from 4.9 days to 0.8 days (p < 0.001) in adolescents at 12 months.

Conclusions: Tonsillectomy improves HRQoL in both school-aged children and adolescents and reduces healthcare service needs and school absenteeism due to oropharyngeal symptoms.

Keywords: Children; Cost-effectiveness; Health-related quality of life; Tonsillectomy.

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services / economics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Quality of Life*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tonsillectomy / economics
  • Tonsillectomy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Treatment Outcome