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Complication Rate After Adult Tonsillectomy Higher Than Thought

April 7, 2014

MONDAY, April 7, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Twenty percent of adults who get their tonsils removed develop complications, a new study shows.

The complication rates are much higher than those reported in previous research, according to the authors of the study in the April issue of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery.

Of those with complications, 10 percent had to visit an emergency department and about 1.5 percent were hospitalized, according to the study. The figures are based on an analysis of data from U.S. patients with employer-sponsored insurance who had outpatient tonsillectomy between 2002 and 2007.

Within 14 days of having their tonsils removed, 6 percent of patients with complications were treated for bleeding, 2 percent for dehydration, and 11 percent for ear, nose or throat pain.

On average, the cost of tonsil removal without complications was $3,832, compared with $6,388 for a tonsillectomy in which a patient suffered bleeding after surgery.

The findings offer important new insights into tonsil removal in adults, the researchers said.

Most research on tonsillectomy results has been documented in pediatric populations, study corresponding author Dennis Scanlon said in a journal news release.

“Much less is known about the safety and risks to adult patients that undergo the procedure,” he said.

“Patients expect to compare the risks and benefits of treatment options, but as our study shows, credible patient-centered information is often lacking, even for a common procedure that has been in practice for many, many years,” Scanlon said.

Important risk-and-benefit information needs to be made available, he said. Also, doctors should be trained to help patients use this information to make informed choices, he added.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about tonsillectomy.


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