Dutch researchers have come out against the removal of the tonsils in children with mild or moderate throat infections. According to the team from the University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands, the procedure is not only more expensive but has also fewer health benefits than passing through a bout of tonsillitis.
They conducted a study involving 300 children aged 2 to 8. These children were advised to have their tonsils removed. Yet it was seen that those who avoided surgery had fewer annual visits to doctors and lower resulting medical costs.
Tonsils found at the rear end of the mouth, are masses of tissue that trap bacteria and viruses a person breathes in.
"Surgery resulted in a significant increase in costs without realizing relevant clinical benefit," Erik Buskens, epidemiologist and lead author wrote in the Archives of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery.
Tonsillectomy is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures for children. Some young patients have had their tonsils removed traditionally to relieve repeated throat infections and related fevers.
Yet, compared to the past doctors today carry out fewer tonsil operations.
Now the Dutch study has bolstered evidence that many children who do have the procedure see little, if any benefit.
The study was conducted between 2002 and 2003. Here the team excluded children with frequent throat infections or those who had their tonsils removed because of sleep apnea.
The researchers asked parents to track their children's respiratory track symptoms, measure their temperatures daily and record any costs related to their care.
It was found that that the annual costs among the group, which did not have surgery, was about 551 euro per year. This was about 46 percent less than the 803 euros for children who had their tonsils removed. The children who avoided surgery also had fewer fevers, throat infections and respiratory illnesses.
The researchers did not account costs borne by parents in the form of absenteeism from work or other expenses related to their children's illnesses.