Health and well-being of children and young adults in relation to surgery of the tonsils

University dissertation from Institutionen för nervsystem och rörelseorgan

Abstract: Tonsillectomy is one of the most frequently performed surgical procedures in children and youths. The aim of this thesis was to study children and youths in relation to tonsil surgery with the goal of improving the care, and to describe partial tonsillectomy/tonsillotomy (TT) using radiofrequency technique (RF) (Ellman International) in comparison with the more commonly used total tonsillectomy (TE).The thesis covers studies of wo age-groups with obstructive problems, with or without recurrent tonsillitis. Randomization to surgery was done from the existing waiting list; 92 children, 5-15 years old to 49/TT and 43/TE, (I-III) and 76 youths, 16-25 years old to 32/TT and 44/TE (IV-V).The first purpose (I, IV) was to compare the two surgical techniques with respect to pain and postoperative morbidity. Pain measures were for the children the Face Pain Scale and for the youths and parents and staff a verbal-pain-rating-scale. From the first day, the TT-groups scored significantly less pain than the TE-groups. The doses of pain-killing drugs (paracetamol and diclofenac) taken were significantly less for the children and youths receiving the TT-surgery, they could stop taking pain-killers sooner, and were back to normal activity three (5-15yrs) or four (16-25yrs) days earlier compared with TE-groups.Paper II focused on the child’s behavior (Child Behavior Checklist/CBCL), experience of pain, anxiety (State-Trait-Anxiety Inventory for Children /STAIC), previous experiences of surgery/tonsillitis, and the management of pain. The children scored higher on CBCL than a normative group before surgery, but no connection was observed between CBCL rating and experience of pain reported post surgically. There was no relation between preoperative anxiety and reported pain, but the postoperative anxiety level correlated with pain. The Egroup scored higher anxiety after surgery. Previous experience of surgery or tonsillitis did not influence the postoperative pain. The nurses scored pain lower than the parents/children and under-medicated.The second purpose was to compare the long-term effects of TT and TE-surgery after one and three years (5-15yrs) and one year (16-25yrs) (III, IV). The effect on snoring was the same for both TT and TE-groups and the rate of recurrence of throat infections was low after both surgical techniques.After one year, all children (TT/TE) showed improvements on CBCL to the same degree and there was no longer a difference between total behavior and normative values. They also scored improvements in health-related quality of life (HRQL) with Glasgow-Children-Benefit-Inventory.For both TT and TE, the older group reported lower HRQL preoperatively on all dimensions of Study-Short-Form (SF-36) compared with a normal population. After one year, a large improvement was found in HRQL in both groups and there were no differences compared with a normal population.Conclusion: Preoperative obstructive problems, in combination with recurrent tonsillitis have a negative impact on HRQL. Both after TE and TT there are large improvements in HRQL, infections, obstructive, and behavior problems one to three years after surgery, indicating that both surgical methods are equally effective. With fewer postoperative complications, less pain, shorter recovery time, and lower cost, TT with RF should be considered as method of choice.