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Arch Pediatr. 2006 Feb;13(2):168-74. Epub 2005 Dec 28.

[Tonsillectomy in 2005].

[Article in French]

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  • 1Service de Pédiatrie Générale, Hôpital Louis-Mourier, Assistance publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, 178, rue des Renouillers, 92700 Colombes, France.


During the past years, the number of tonsillectomies (only palatine tonsils are taken off) has decreased, indications for surgery have changed. A multi-disciplinal group of paediatricians tried to elaborate the state of the art in the field. Tonsils are the first line defense of high respiratory tract. The immune functions of their lymphoid tissue are multiple: mucosal antigens capture, presentation to lymphocytes, antigens specific proliferation of lymphocytes T and B, differentiation of lymphocytes in effectors lymphocytes and immune lymphocytes. Epithelial cells on the tonsils' surface express non-specific defense. These facts explain partly tonsils' hypertrophy. Tonsillectomy has no general immune consequences. In 2002, in France, 75,000 tonsillectomies were realized, of which 90% were in children. Tonsil's hypertrophy is the major indication, mandatory when sleep apnoeas exist. The main historical tonsillectomy indication for recurrent tonsillitis should decrease due to a more precise diagnostic (rapid test at bed site), an efficient antibiotics therapy and better care for pain. Other indications are scarce. Surgery, feasible from 9 months of age, requires a brief general anaesthesia and has very few contra-indications. The technique, operator dependent, relies on his experience. The only potentially severe complication is an haemorrhage due to scab fall between the eighth and twelfth days. It requires explanation and a written note given to parents. The possibility of lack of feeding and voice modification, usually transitory, should be known. Multiple consequences of tonsillectomy especially allergy have been alleged. Since the years 1980, it is well established that pre-existing allergy or asthma are not a contraindication. More, its deleterious impact on allergic children has not been demonstrated. Last, a gain of weight post-tonsillectomy is possible and could become a risk if excessive.

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