Tonsillectomy Complications May Be More Likely in Poor, Minority Kids

Tonsillectomy Complications May Be More Likely in Poor, Minority Kids

Tonsillectomy Complications May Be More Likely in Poor, Minority Kids

Access to care might play a role, researcher says

SOURCE: University of California, Los Angeles, news release, Oct. 15, 2014

FRIDAY, Oct. 17, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Black and Hispanic children, and those from poor families, are at increased risk for complications after tonsil removal surgery, a new study finds.

Researchers analyzed data from nearly 80,000 children who underwent tonsillectomies in California, Florida, Iowa and New York in 2010 and 2011.

Within two weeks after surgery, about 8 percent of the children saw a doctor for complications such as bleeding, pain, dehydration and fever, the study authors said.

Black and Hispanic children were more likely to suffer complications than white children, according to the study. The researchers also found that children in the poorest families were 1.5 times more likely to have complications and 1.3 times more likely to have bleeding than those in the wealthiest families.

The findings were published online recently in the journal Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery.

"Surprisingly, despite all children having a relatively uniform health status before surgery, we found significant differences in the numbers of children requiring revisits after their tonsillectomies," study co-author Dr. Nina Shapiro, professor of head and neck surgery at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a university news release.

There may be several reasons for the findings, she noted.

"One possibility is that families in the higher-income group may have had easier access to communication with their doctor via phone or email, alleviating the need for doctor visits," according to Shapiro, who is also director of pediatric otolaryngology at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA.

"Another possibility is that children in the lower-income group may have had low-grade chronic illnesses or infections, making them more susceptible to postoperative problems. Or, educational level and possible language barriers may have played a role in postoperative outcomes," she added.

About 500,000 children undergo tonsillectomy each year in the United States, according to the researchers.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about tonsillectomy.
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