Loss of Taste Unlikely After Tonsillectomy

Small study shows no decline in gustatory taste scores at 64 to 173 days after surgery

TUESDAY, July 17 (HealthDay News) -- Contrary to some published reports, patients are unlikely to have an impaired sense of taste following tonsillectomy, according to the results of a small study published in the July issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology--Head & Neck Surgery.

Christian A. Mueller, M.D., of the University of Vienna in Austria, and colleagues performed gustatory testing one day before tonsillectomy to assess sensitivity to sweet, sour, salty and bitter tastes in 65 patients who ranged in age from 15 to 68. They also asked patients to self-assess their senses of taste and smell on a scale of one to 100. After 64 to 173 days, the researchers again performed gustatory testing on 32 patients and obtained self-assessments from all 65 patients.

The researchers found no significant differences in gustatory test scores before and after the surgery. Before surgery, the average self-assessment score was 62.3, which declined to 51.1 after surgery. At follow-up questioning, however, none of the patients reported ongoing taste or smell dysfunction.

"A number of case reports and a few systematic investigations of patients experiencing taste disorders after tonsillectomy have been published," the authors conclude. "However, based on the present results, taste loss after tonsillectomy seems to be a rare complication."

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