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Fewer Tonsillectomies Leading to More Complications

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A spokesman for ENT UK, Dr Andrew McCombe, has said that the falling rate of tonsillectomies being performed on the NHS has led to an increase in the complications that can arise from repeated bouts of tonsillitis.

Back in the 1950s more than 200,000 tonsillectomies were performed every single year. But concerns grew that the operation was being overused, and so the figures started to fall. By the time we reached the year 1994-95, the number of operations had fallen to 77,600. But by the year 2009 this figure had fallen still further to 49,000.

It has been stated that complications from regular bouts of tonsillitis can include infections, quinsy and even in a few cases tonsil cancer. Research has shown that instances of these complications have now started to rise in direct correlation with the fall in the number of tonsillectomies that are being done.

Figures show that people being admitted for emergency medical treatment for a condition of the tonsils have gone up by a whopping 40% in just eight years, between 2000 and 2008.

While tonsillectomies were probably overused in the past, Dr McCombe says, “There is no data to suggest that the procedure is overused or abused in the UK.” He went on to say that, “In fact the data trends of increasing hospital activity for tonsillar problems seem to suggest that rather than performing too many tonsillectomies in the UK, we are now performing too few.”

It remains to be seen whether this trend will be reversed in future years.

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