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Current Guidelines for Pediatric Tonsillectomies Questioned

Understanding of longer-term outcomes or effects in subpopulations deemed lacking

a boy on a hospital bed

TUESDAY, Jan. 17, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers evaluating evidence for tonsillectomy found that more children would receive significant short-term improvement in their daily life if the current guidelines were relaxed. The two reviews were published online Jan. 17 in Pediatrics.

To qualify for the surgery, a child must have many recurring throat infections within a short span of time or severe sleep disturbances, coauthor Sivakumar Chinnadurai, M.D., M.P.H., a pediatric otolaryngologist at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., told HealthDay. An evaluation of current medical evidence suggests more kids would receive significant short-term improvement in their daily life if the guidelines were relaxed, said Chinnadurai.

In one the reviews, the team found that sore throat days, clinician contacts, diagnosed group A streptococcal infections, and school absences were decreased in tonsillectomized children in the short term (less than 12 months). In the second review, the team found that most studies reported better sleep-related outcomes in children who had a tonsillectomy.

"Tonsillectomy can produce short-term improvement in sleep outcomes compared with no surgery in children with obstructive sleep-disordered breathing," the authors write. "Understanding of longer-term outcomes or effects in subpopulations is lacking."

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