SAMJ: South African Medical Journal
On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
VAN LIEROP, Anton C and PRESCOTT, C A J. Is routine pathological examination required in South African children undergoing adenotonsillectomy?. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2009, vol.99, n.11, pp. 805-809. ISSN 2078-5135.
OBJECTIVE: We aimed to determine the incidence of abnormal pathological findings in the tonsils and/or adenoids of children undergoing tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy, and the incidence of tuberculosis of the tonsils and adenoids; suggest criteria to identify children at risk for adenotonsillar tuberculosis; and investigate the association between HIV and adenotonsillar abnormality, the cost-effectiveness of routine pathological examination of adenotonsillectomy specimens, and criteria to decide which specimens to send for histological examination. METHODS: We undertook an 8-month prospective study on all children (>12 years) undergoing consecutive tonsillectomy or adenotonsillectomy (T&A) at Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital. Patients were assessed pre-operatively and tonsil sizes graded pre- and intra-operatively. Blood was taken for HIV testing, and all tonsils and adenoids were examined histologically. A cost-benefit analysis was done to determine the cost-effectiveness of adenotonsillectomy routine pathology. RESULTS: A total of 344 tonsils were analysed from 172 children (102 boys, 70 girls); 1 patient had nasopharyngeal tuberculosis, and 1 lymphoma of the tonsils; 13 (7.6%) patients had clinically asymmetrically enlarged tonsils but no significant abnormal pathological finding. The average cost of detecting a clinically significant abnormality was R22 744 (R45 488 ÷ 2 abnormalities). CONCLUSIONS: The following criteria could improve cost-effectiveness of pathological examination of adenotonsillectomy specimens: positive tuberculosis contact at home, systemic symptoms of fever and weight loss, cervical lymphadenopathy >3 cm, suspicious nasopharyngeal appearance, HIV-positive patient, rapid tonsillar enlargement or significant tonsillar asymmetry. On our evidence, routine pathological investigation for South African children does not seem to be justified.