NHS should return to the 1950s and take out more tonsils to avoid repeat cases of sore throats, say doctors
Finnish study finds tonsillectomies reduce pharyngitisAbout 200,000 children a year had tonsils out in 1950sNow figure has dropped to 29,000 procedures a year
05:07 GMT, 3 April 2013
07:47 GMT, 3 April 2013
The NHS should remove more tonsils to avoid repeated cases of severely sore throats, according to British doctors.
About 200,000 children a year had the surgery in the 1950s but it is now considered old-fashioned and expensive, with only 29,000 carried out in 2010/11.
But a Finnish study of patients with recurring sore throats found that only four per cent of those who had their tonsils taken out visited their doctor with another sore throat five months after the procedure, compared with 43 per cent of those who had not had it done.
The NHS should carry out more tonsillectomies, say British doctors after a Finnish study showed the surgery reduced cases of sore throats
Consultant surgeon Andrew McCombe, spokesman for ENT UK, the British association of ear, nose and throat specialists, told the Daily Telegraph that the NHS should return to carrying out tonsillectomies instead of cost-cutting by claiming the surgery is ineffective.
He said: 'They are trying to pretend that this is about quality of care, saying there is no evidence of [tonsillectomy's] value and calling it a “procedure of limited effectiveness”. That is a lie and it is a disingenuous use of information.'
The study at the University of Oulu in Finland looked at 86 patients with recurring pharyngitis over a five-month period.
The patients were randomly sorted into a group of 40 awaiting a tonsillectomy and 46 who had the procedure.
Only two (four per cent) of those who had their tonsils out needed to go to the doctor with another severe bout of pharyngitis during the following five months, compared with 17 (43 per cent) out of the 40 who did not have the surgery.
In the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the academics reported: 'These reductions resulted in fewer medical visits and fewer absences from school or work. Patients who underwent surgery also felt that their quality of life improved.'
The tonsils are lymphoid tissue and produce antibodies and white blood cells to fight off infections
Last year, Mr McCombe told the Mail: 'There’s been a 40 per cent increase in emergency admissions directly related to tonsillitis over the past ten years.
'It is a good, effective operation that does what it says on the tin: if you have the operation, you won’t get tonsillitis again.’
The tonsils are lymphoid tissue and produce antibodies and white blood cells to fight off infections before young children develop other ways to fight germs.
They are prone to inflammation, or tonsillitis, because of infections caused by viruses such as colds and flu. In a third of cases, it is caused by bacterial infection.
'Tonsillectomy is a good operation and this is a study that shows its value and worth, and perhaps suggests we ought to be doing more of these operations,' Mr McCombe told the Telegraph.