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European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology

, Volume 273, Issue 4, pp 989–1009 | Cite as

Clinical practice guideline: tonsillitis II. Surgical management

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

Abstract

In 2013, a total of 84,332 patients had undergone extracapsular tonsillectomies (TE) and 11,493 a tonsillotomy (TT) procedure in Germany. While the latter is increasingly performed, the number of the former is continually decreasing. However, a constant number of approximately 12,000 surgical procedures in terms of abscess-tonsillectomies or incision and drainage are annually performed in Germany to treat patients with a peritonsillar abscess. The purpose of this part of the clinical guideline is to provide clinicians in any setting with a clinically focused multi-disciplinary guidance through the surgical treatment options to reduce inappropriate variation in clinical care, improve clinical outcome and reduce harm. Surgical treatment options encompass intracapsular as well as extracapsular tonsil surgery and are related to three distinct entities: recurrent episodes of (1) acute tonsillitis, (2) peritonsillar abscess and (3) infectious mononucleosis. Conservative management of these entities is subject of part I of this guideline. (1) The quality of evidence for TE to resolve recurrent episodes of tonsillitis is moderate for children and low for adults. Conclusions concerning the efficacy of TE on the number of sore throat episodes per year are limited to 12 postoperative months in children and 5–6 months in adults. The impact of TE on the number of sore throat episodes per year in children is modest. Due to the heterogeneity of data, no firm conclusions on the effectiveness of TE in adults can be drawn. There is still an urgent need for further research to reliably estimate the value of TE compared to non-surgical therapy of tonsillitis/tonsillo-pharyngitis. The impact of TE on quality of life is considered as being positive, but further research is mandatory to establish appropriate inventories and standardized evaluation procedures, especially in children. In contrast to TE, TT or comparable procedures are characterized by a substantially lower postoperative morbidity in terms of pain and bleeding. Although tonsillar tissue remains along the capsule, the outcome appears not to differ from TE, at least in the pediatric population and young adults. Age and a history of tonsillitis are not a contraindication, abscess formation in the tonsillar remnants is an extremely rare finding. The volume of the tonsils should be graded according to Brodsky and a grade >1 is considered to be eligible for TT. The number of episodes during 12 months prior to presentation is crucial to indicate either TE or TT. While surgery is not indicated in patients with less than three episodes, a wait-and-see policy for 6 months is justified to include the potential of a spontaneous healing before surgery is considered. Six or more episodes appear to justify tonsil surgery. (2) Needle aspiration, incision and drainage, and abscess tonsillectomy are effective methods to treat patients with peritonsillar abscess. Compliance and ability of the patient to cooperate must be taken into account when choosing the surgical method. Simultaneous antibiotic therapy is recommended but still subject of scientific research. Abscess tonsillectomy should be preferred, if complications have occurred or if alternative therapeutic procedures had failed. Simultaneous TE of the contralateral side should only be performed when criteria for elective TE are matched or in cases of bilateral peritonsillar abscess. Needle aspiration or incision and drainage should be preferred if co-morbidities exist or an increased surgical risk or coagulation disorders are present. Recurrences of peritonsillar abscesses after needle aspiration or incision and drainage are rare. Interval TE should not be performed, the approach is not supported by contemporary clinical studies. (3) In patients with infectious mononucleosis TE should not be performed as a routine procedure for symptom control. TE is indicated in cases with clinically significant upper airway obstruction resulting from inflammatory tonsillar hyperplasia. If signs of a concomitant bacterial infection are not present, antibiotics should not be applied. Steroids may be administered for symptom relief.

Keywords

Tonsillitis Tonsillectomy Tonsillotomy Intracapsular tonsillectomy Infectious mononucleosis Peritonsillar abscess Therapy Complications 

Notes

Acknowledgments

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 Otolaryngology, Head and Neck SurgeryKliniken Maria HilfMönchengladbachGermany
  2. 2.Department of PediatricsUniversity Hospital of DresdenDresdenGermany
  3. 3.Private PracticeCologneGermany
  4. 4.Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck SurgeryUniversity Hospital of ErlangenErlangenGermany

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