The Journal of Laryngology & Otology

Main Article

Post-tonsillectomy morbidity statistics: are they underestimated?

J Doshia1 c1, M Damadoraa1, S Gregorya1 and S Anaria1

a1 Department of Otolaryngology, Darlington Memorial Hospital, UK


Background: Post-tonsillectomy morbidity statistics are obtained when patients present to hospital with complications. The two common morbidities are pain and haemorrhage. Hospital-recorded morbidity rates may be an underestimation, as some patients are treated by general practitioners and are therefore not included in hospital audits.

Methods: Prospective, cohort, questionnaire study to assess: the post-tonsillectomy haemorrhage rate (i.e. actual rate versus hospital recorded rate); and the number of patients with post-operative pain and/or bleeding who were treated with antibiotics by their general practitioner.

Results: The response rate was 76 per cent (70/92). The actual rate of secondary haemorrhage was three times that noted in the hospital records (15.7 vs 5.7 per cent, respectively). Fifteen patients (21 per cent) required extra analgesia after discharge. General practitioners prescribed antibiotics for pain alone in six patients (11 per cent).

Conclusion: The actual post-tonsillectomy haemorrhage rate is much higher than that recorded in hospital statistics. General practitioners differ in their treatment of post-tonsillectomy patients presenting with pain alone; some prescribe antibiotics in addition to analgesia.

(Accepted December 27 2006)

(Online publication March 19 2007)


c1 Address for correspondence: Mr Jayesh Doshi, Apartment 20, Adderstone Court, 17 Adderstone Crescent, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 2EA, UK. Fax: 01706 646734 E-mail:


Presented as a poster at the North of England ENT Society meeting, 10 March 2006, York, and at the 12th British Academy Conference in Otolaryngology and ENT Expo meeting, 5–7 July 2006, Birmingham, UK. Oral Presentation at the Midlands Insitute of Otology meeting 5 January 2007, Sloke-on-Trent, UK.

Mr J Doshi takes responsibility for the integrity of the content of the paper.

Competing interests: None declared