There can be too many tonsillectomies

February 18, 2019

At the 1998 Grammys, Luciano Pavarotti backed out of performing at the last minute because of a sore throat — and Aretha Franklin stepped in to give a moving gospel-operatic rendition of the aria “Nessun Dorma!”

Rarely do sore throats lead to such astounding moments of artistry.

In fact, according to a new study from Birmingham University, for seven out of eight kids in the U.K. who have their

tonsils removed, the surgery isn’t even necessary!

In the U.S. more than half a million tonsillectomies are performed annually. Three decades ago, 90 percent were because of chronic sore throats.

Now only 20 percent are; 80 percent are because infected tonsils are causing a child to have obstructive sleep apnea.

For repeated sore throats to be chronic enough to merit surgery, U.S. guidelines say a child should have had at least seven episodes in the previous year; five each year for two years; or three each year for three years.

For obstructive sleep apnea diagnosis, anecdotal evidence from parents and a doctor’s clinical observations are most often relied on to determine if a tonsillectomy is needed.

You don’t want your child to undergo this surgery unnecessarily.

One study found that between 3 and 13 percent of kids end up back in the hospital or emergency room post-tonsillectomy.

So, children who contend with chronic sore throats or have sleep problems because their breathing is affected by swollen tonsils should be evaluated by an experienced ear, nose and throat specialist who can help determine if a tonsillectomy is really needed.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.