ABSTRACT: The 2009 McKinsey National Health Service report considered that tonsillectomy was relatively ineffective and often unjustified, and that its frequently could be greatly reduced. ENTUK argued against this, for severe recurrent tonsillitis. This study audited clinical indications for tonsillectomy. CRITERIA AND STANDARDS: Current guidelines state that patients with recurrent tonsillitis must have disabling sore throat episodes five or more times per year, and symptoms for at least a year, to justify tonsillectomy.
Seventeen recurrent tonsillitis patients receiving tonsillectomy were audited prospectively. Indications were poorly documented in the referral letter, so surgeons agreed to list specified tonsillectomy criteria when scheduling patients for tonsillectomy. A pro forma reminder was distributed to all clinics, and the next 100 scheduled tonsillectomy patients were audited.
In the first audit, all 17 tonsillectomies were justified but only two (11.8 per cent) had documented indications. In the second audit, 85 per cent of patients had all essential criteria, which were documented in the listing letter.
Tonsillectomy risks being removed from the UK essential otolaryngological surgical register, risking increased patient morbidity and work absence, despite valid supporting evidence of efficacy for recurrent tonsillitis. All UK otolaryngology units should strictly adhere to the ENTUK and Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network recommendations for tonsillectomy, and should document essential criteria in the listing letter, to strengthen the advocacy argument for tonsillectomy as essential, valid treatment for recurrent tonsillitis.
The Journal of Laryngology & Otology 06/2012; 126(6):609-11. · 0.60 Impact Factor