Tonsils: Keep 'Em or Have 'Em Removed?

Health Notes Archives - Click HereBy Christina Elston

While many parents might remember tonsillectomy as a childhood rite-of-passage, for our children it hasn't necessarily been the case. But two new studies on the subject show that the procedure is more helpful, and less of a big deal, than you might think.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic, for instance, now believe that keeping those tonsils in place can increase kids' risk of recurrent strep throat - a common bacterial infection that means time away from school and a nasty sore throat. In a study of 290 children ages 4 to 16, published in a recent issue of the journal Laryngoscope, researchers found that kids who kept their tonsils were three times more likely to have recurrent strep throat than those who had gone under the knife.

Meanwhile, another recent study reported, in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology, found that children having their tonsils removed can usually be sent home within two hours of the operation. The study, conducted at UCLA Medical Center, looked at more than 700 operations performed between 1998 and 2005. There were fewer than 10 children with post-op complications in the whole batch, and most went home within two hours of their operation.

Each case is different, experts emphasize, and your doctor is the best person to decide whether your child needs to lose those tonsils, and when it's OK to head home after the operation. For more information about tonsillectomy, visit the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery online.

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Christina Elston is a senior editor and health writer for Dominion Parenting Media.