European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology

, Volume 273, Issue 4, pp 973–987 | Cite as

Clinical practice guideline: tonsillitis I. Diagnostics and nonsurgical management

  • Jochen P. Windfuhr
  • Nicole Toepfner
  • Gregor Steffen
  • Frank Waldfahrer
  • Reinhard Berner
Head and Neck


More than 120,000 patients are treated annually in Germany to resolve repeated episodes of acute tonsillitis. Therapy is aiming at symptom regression, avoidance of complications, reduction in the number of disease-related absences in school or at work, increased cost-effectiveness and improved quality of life. The purpose of this part of the guideline is to provide clinicians in any setting with a clinically focused multi-disciplinary guidance through different conservative treatment options in order to reduce inappropriate variation in clinical care, improve clinical outcome and reduce harm. Surgical management in terms of intracapsular as well as extracapsular tonsillectomy (i.e. tonsillotomy) is the subject of part II of this guideline. To estimate the probability of tonsillitis caused by β-hemolytic streptococci, a diagnostic scoring system according to Centor or McIsaac is suggested. If therapy is considered, a positive score of ≥3 should lead to pharyngeal swab or rapid test or culture in order to identify β-hemolytic streptococci. Routinely performed blood tests for acute tonsillitis are not indicated. After acute streptococcal tonsillitis, there is no need to repeat a pharyngeal swab or any other routine blood tests, urine examinations or cardiological diagnostics such as ECG. The determination of the antistreptolysin O-titer (ASLO titer) and other antistreptococcal antibody titers do not have any value in relation to acute tonsillitis with or without pharyngitis and should not be performed. First-line therapy of β-hemolytic streptococci consists of oral penicillin. Instead of phenoxymethylpenicillin–potassium (penicillin V potassium), also phenoxymethlpenicillin–benzathine with a clearly longer half-life can be used. Oral intake for 7 days of one of both the drugs is recommended. Alternative treatment with oral cephalosporins (e.g. cefadroxil, cefalexin) is indicated only in cases of penicillin failure, frequent recurrences, and whenever a more reliable eradication of β-hemolytic streptococci is desirable. In cases of allergy or incompatibility of penicillin, cephalosporins or macrolides (e.g. Erythromycin-estolate) are valuable alternatives.


Tonsillitis Pharyngitis Antibiotic therapy McIsaac score Tonsillectomy Tonsillotomy 



The authors would like to thank Susanne Zapf, Marburg University Hospital, Marburg, Germany, for her invaluable help in translating this clinical guideline.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jochen P. Windfuhr
    • 1
  • Nicole Toepfner
    • 2
  • Gregor Steffen
    • 3
  • Frank Waldfahrer
    • 4
  • Reinhard Berner
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Plastic Head and Neck SurgeryKliniken Maria HilfMönchengladbachGermany
  2. 2.Department of PediatricsUniversity Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Technische Universität DresdenDresdenGermany
  3. 3.Private PracticeCologneGermany
  4. 4.Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck SurgeryUniversity Hospital of ErlangenErlangenGermany

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