Doctors Call For More Tonsils To Be Whipped Out

14/08/2014 16:48 | Updated 22 May 2015
Doctors call for more tonsils to be whipped out

When I was knee high to a grasshopper, it seemed like every kid in my class had spent time in hospital to have their tonsils out. I thought they'd only had it done for the free ice cream.

And then suddenly it stopped. Like Vienettas and Texan bars, tonsillectomies seemed to be a thing of the past. But now doctors want to bring them back - for the good of our children's throats.

They say whipping out children's tonsils could reduce the number of sore throats by 40 per cent.

A study of Finnish patients with recurring pharyngitis found that just four per cent visited their doctor with a severe sore throat in the five months after having their tonsils removed, compared with 43 per cent who were still waiting for the surgery.

British doctors said the findings were further evidence that tonsillectomies, which have become much less common in recent decades, are an effective treatment and should be more widely used.

In the 1950s about 200,000 children and young adults had their tonsils removed each year, but the cost and perceived overuse of the procedure led to a decline in later decades.

Health data from 2009-10 shows that the number of operations per year had dropped below 50,000, with patients often given alternative treatments such as antibiotics instead

The new study by experts from the University of Oulu in Finland and published in the the Canadian Medical Association Journal 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."

Andrew McCombe, a consultant surgeon and spokesman for ENT UK, the British association of ear, nose and throat specialists, told the Telegraph the NHS should 'without doubt' be making the procedure more widely available.

"We must have crossed a line here, we have now gone too far the wrong way," Mr McCombe said.

Health bosses have attempted to justify the reduction in procedures by claiming there is no evidence to prove their effectiveness but this is a smokescreen for cost cutting, he added.

"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," he said.

"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."

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