COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE
RESEARCH SUPPORT, N.I.H., EXTRAMURAL
RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, P.H.S.
REVIEW
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Comparative Effectiveness of Partial versus Total Tonsillectomy in Children.

Objective To assess the effectiveness of partial versus total tonsillectomy in children. Data Sources MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane Library from January 1980 to June 2016. Review Methods Two investigators independently screened studies and extracted data. Investigators independently assessed risk of bias and strength of evidence of the literature. Heterogeneity precluded quantitative analysis. Results In 16 eligible randomized controlled trials (RCTs), definitions of "partial" tonsillectomy varied. In addition to comparing partial with total tonsil removal, 11 studies compared surgical techniques (eg, coblation). In studies comparing the same technique, return to normal diet or activity was faster with partial removal (more favorable outcomes in 4 of 4 RCTs). In studies with differing surgical techniques, return to normal diet and activity was faster with partial versus total tonsillectomy (more favorable outcomes in 5 of 6 studies). In 3 of 4 RCTs, partial tonsillectomy was associated with more throat infections than total tonsillectomy. Differences between groups were generally not statistically significant for obstructive symptom persistence, quality of life, or behavioral outcomes. Across all studies, 10 (6%) of roughly 166 children had tonsillar regrowth after partial tonsillectomy. Conclusions Data do not allow firm conclusions regarding the comparative benefit of partial versus total removal; however, neither surgical technique nor extent of surgery appears to affect outcomes markedly. Partial tonsillectomy conferred moderate advantages in return to normal diet/activity but was also associated with tonsillar regrowth and symptom recurrence. Effects may be due to confounding given differences in populations and surgical approaches/techniques. Heterogeneity and differences in the operationalization of "partial" tonsillectomy limited comparative analyses.

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