European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology

, Volume 264, Issue 3, pp 277–284 | Cite as

Tonsillotomy or tonsillectomy?—a prospective study comparing histological and immunological findings in recurrent tonsillitis and tonsillar hyperplasia

  • Oliver Reichel
  • Doris Mayr
  • Jan Winterhoff
  • Richard de la Chaux
  • Hjalmar Hagedorn
  • Alexander Berghaus


We evaluated the differences in histological and immunological findings in children with recurrent tonsillitis and tonsillar hyperplasia and assessed the risk for relapsing tonsillar hyperplasia or recurrent tonsillitis after tonsillotomy in a prospective clinical study. Sixty-four children with recurrent tonsillitis underwent traditional (total) blunt dissection tonsillectomy between October 2003 and July 2004. Partial tonsillectomy (tonsillotomy) using CO2-laser technique was performed on 49 children with tonsillar hyperplasia and no history of recurrent tonsillitis between August 2003 and March 2005. The present study compares preoperative serum anti-streptolysin-O antibody and immunoglobulin levels (IgG, IgA and IgM), C-reactive protein levels (CRP) and blood leukocyte counts of the two study groups. Additionally the tonsillar tissue removed by tonsillotomy or tonsillectomy was histologically examined in order to determine the grade of hyperplasia, chronic inflammation and fibrosis. Furthermore, the grade of fresh inflammation within the tonsillar crypts of the specimens was analysed. The parents of 40 patients treated by laser tonsillotomy were surveyed in average 16 months. There was no statistically significant difference in preoperative serum anti-streptolysin-O antibody and immunoglobulin levels, C-reactive protein levels and blood leukocyte counts between the two study groups. All specimens showed the histological picture of hyperplasia. There was no statistically significant difference in the grades of hyperplasia between the two study groups. Signs of fresh but mild inflammation within the tonsillar crypts could be found in over 70% of both study groups. Fibrosis only occurred in children with recurrent tonsillitis (9%). In all specimens signs of chronic inflammation could be detected. The histological examinations of specimens from children with repeated throat infections more frequently showed a moderate chronic inflammation of the tonsillar tissue. Two of forty patients treated by tonsillotomy required a subsequent tonsillectomy due to a recurrence of tonsillar hyperplasia but no recurrent tonsillitis occurred. Tonsillotomy with CO2-laser technique is an effective surgical procedure with a long-lasting effect in patients with tonsillar hyperplasia. The benefits over conventional tonsillectomy are a lower risk for postoperative haemorrhage, reduced postoperative morbidity and accelerated recovery. Even in children with no history of recurrent tonsillitis signs of chronic inflammation histologically can be found in specimens after tonsillotomy. The occurrence of recurrent tonsillitis after tonsillotomy is rare, however. A low incidence of relapsing tonsillar hyperplasia after tonsillotomy should be expected. Preoperative laboratory investigations show few differences in patients with tonsillar hyperplasia and recurrent tonsillitis. Components of the antimicrobial defense system are also produced by chronically infected tonsils. Therefore tonsillotomy with CO2-laser could also be an option in some patients with mild symptoms of recurrent tonsillitis.


Tonsillar hyperplasia Laser surgery Tonsillotomy Tonsillectomy Immunoglobulins 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oliver Reichel
    • 1
  • Doris Mayr
    • 2
  • Jan Winterhoff
    • 1
  • Richard de la Chaux
    • 1
  • Hjalmar Hagedorn
    • 1
  • Alexander Berghaus
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck SurgeryLudwig Maximilians University Munich, University Hospital GroßhadernMunichGermany
  2. 2.Department of PathologyLudwig Maximilians University MunichMunichGermany

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