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Adult Tonsillectomy Safe With Low Mortality, Complication Rates

Getting your tonsils removed as an adult is a safe procedure with low mortality and complication rates, according to a study by Michelle M. Chen, B.A., of the Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn., and colleagues.

Tonsillectomy is one of the most commonly performed otolaryngology procedures but there are few data on the safety of tonsillectomy in adults, according to the study background.

The authors identified 5,968 adults in the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program who underwent tonsillectomy in 2005 to 2011.

Study results indicate the 30-day mortality rate was 0.03 percent, the complication rate was 1.2 percent and the reoperation rate was 3.2 percent. The most common complications were pneumonia (27 percent of all complications), urinary tract infections (27 percent) and superficial surgical site infections (16 percent).

“Adult patients who undergo tonsillectomy in the United States have a low risk of reoperation and mortality similar to that in the pediatric population,” the authors conclude.

(JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online January 30, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2013.6215)

Editor’s Note:  This project was supported by the James G. Hirsch, M.D., Endowed Medical Student research Fellowship at Yale University School of Medicine. Please see article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

Media Advisory: To contact corresponding author Benjamin L. Judson, M.D., call Helen Dodson at 203- 436-3984 or email

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