Removal of the tonsils and / or throat tonsils is one of the most common operations in childhood. As reported by the Federal Statistical Office, 67,581 children under the age of 15 underwent an almond surgery in 2016:
- 21,636 children => Tonsillectomy: removal of the tonsils
- 34,247 children => Adenotomy: removal of the polyps (= tonsil tonsils)
- 11,698 children => Removal of the tonsils and pharynx
Against the background of these figures, the publication of a current Danish study received great attention. What are the long-term consequences of the operations? Will these influence the decision for or against tonsil removal in the future?
Current study shows risk of long-term consequences
In the Danish investigation, the data from 1.2 million Danes recorded and analyzed. The diseases of the study participants who had an tonsil surgery up to the age of 9 were compared in a time frame up to the age of 30 with the illnesses of control persons who had not undergone tonsil removal.
The results make one sit up and take notice: the scientists were able to show that adenotomy and tonsillectomy can be performed with one 2 to 3 times higher risk of later diseases of the upper respiratory tract were connected. Also the Risks for infectious diseases and allergies increased by 17 percent after removing tonsils and palate tonsils.
In Germany, these numbers have sparked the discussion about the need for tonsil surgery in children. Do you operate too often? The need for an operation must be critically examined?
The specialist opinions differ here. Many pediatricians are confirmed by the study. For them, almonds are an important organ for the defense against pathogens. They only recommend almond removal if it is absolutely necessary.
In contrast, ENT specialists have received a lot of criticism of the study. You see various defects in the execution. Important other influences that could have led to the later illnesses, such as smoking or an unhealthy diet, were not taken into account. Children may well have suffered from certain diseases such as asthma or allergies before they have had their tonsils removed – and not just before after or through the operating room.
Consequences from the study?
For parents, whose children often suffer from tonsillitis, the questions remain: Is removal of the tonsils sensible and really necessary? The benefits outweigh possible long-term consequences, as z. B. shows the Danish study?
A look at the current therapy guidelines of the relevant specialist societies makes the difficult situation clear: "There is still an urgent need for research." The number of tonsillitis is used as a recommendation for removing the tonsils:
With less than three purulent tonsillitis in the past twelve months that had to be treated with antibiotics, one tonsil removal is no option. In three to five of these cases, the surgery a possible option. On the other hand, almond removal is one from six purulent inflammations in the past twelve months that had to be treated with antibiotics therapeutic option.
An allergy to antibiotics can also make an almond surgery necessary. However, the following always applies: careful risk-benefit assessment should be carried out.
The most important tip for parents is surely: contact a doctor you trust. Find out from both your pediatrician and your ENT specialist. Get detailed advice and do not hesitate to change doctors if you do not feel that your questions and concerns are understood.
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