Tonsillectomy for IgA nephropathy: a meta-analysis

Am J Kidney Dis. 2015 Jan;65(1):80-7. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2014.06.036. Epub 2014 Oct 22.


Background: The efficacy of tonsillectomy in immunoglobulin A nephropathy (IgAN) remains controversial. Our meta-analysis was intended to investigate its efficacy as an adjunct or independent treatment.

Study design: Meta-analysis of prospective and retrospective studies using PubMed, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials.

Setting & population: Patients with IgAN treated with or without tonsillectomy.

Selection criteria for studies: Studies that compared clinical remission or end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in patients with IgAN with or without tonsillectomy.

Intervention: Tonsillectomy.

Outcomes: Clinical remission and ESRD.

Results: 14 studies (1,794 patients) were included and a random-effects model was applied. There were significantly greater odds of clinical remission with tonsillectomy (10 studies, 1,431 patients; pooled OR, 3.40; 95% CI, 2.58-4.48; P<0.001). Sensitivity analysis to exclude the effects of renin-angiotensin system inhibitors yielded consistent results (6 studies, 671 patients; pooled OR for remission, 2.80; 95% CI, 1.91-4.09; P<0.001). In subgroup analysis of the remission outcome, tonsillectomy plus steroid pulse therapy was superior to steroid pulse therapy alone (7 studies, 783 patients; pooled OR, 3.15; 95% CI, 1.99-5.01; P<0.001), and tonsillectomy plus conventional steroid therapy was superior to conventional steroid therapy alone (2 studies, 159 patients; pooled OR, 4.13; 95% CI, 1.23-13.94; P=0.02). Tonsillectomy was superior to general treatment (3 studies, 187 patients; pooled OR for remission, 2.21; 95% CI, 1.20-4.05; P=0.01). In addition, tonsillectomy was associated with decreased odds of ESRD (9 studies, 873 patients; pooled OR, 0.25; 95% CI, 0.12-0.52; P<0.001). 2 sensitivity analyses, one excluding studies with less than 5 years' follow-up and another excluding the confounding effect of renin-angiotensin system inhibitors, yielded nearly the same reduction in ESRD risk (6 studies, 691 patients; pooled OR, 0.20; 95% CI, 0.11-0.36; P<0.001; and 6 studies, 547 patients; pooled OR, 0.24; 95% CI, 0.14-0.44; P<0.001).

Limitations: Most included studies were retrospective cohort studies; we were unable to adjust uniformly for potential confounding variables.

Conclusions: As adjunct or independent therapy, tonsillectomy may induce clinical remission and reduce the rates of ESRD in patients with IgAN.

Keywords: IgA nephropathy (IgAN); clinical remission; end-stage renal disease (ESRD); glomerulonephritis; kidney disease progression; kidney failure; meta-analysis; tonsillectomy; tonsillitis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / administration & dosage*
  • Comparative Effectiveness Research
  • Glomerulonephritis, IGA* / complications
  • Glomerulonephritis, IGA* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic* / etiology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic* / prevention & control
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Pulse Therapy, Drug / methods
  • Pulse Therapy, Drug / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tonsillectomy* / methods
  • Tonsillectomy* / statistics & numerical data


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones