Tonsillectomy results unaffected by kids’ obesity

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Among children who undergo removal of their adenoids and tonsils to correct breathing problems when they’re sleeping, obesity does not necessarily predict an unfavorable outcome, researchers from Greece report.

Obesity and enlarged tonsils are both linked to interrupted breathing or apnea during sleep in childhood, but the relative importance of one or the other is not clear, note Dr. Athanasios Kaditis and colleagues from the University of Thessaly School of Medicine, Larissa.

Furthermore, they add in their report in the medical journal Chest, “Adenotonsillectomy for sleep-disordered breathing is not always curative and obese children are at increased risk for residual disease postoperatively.”

To look into these issues, the researchers examined the outcome of adenotonsillectomy for sleep-disordered breathing in 22 obese and 48 non-obese children between 5 and 7 years old.

The kids underwent sleep studies before and after the surgery to measure how often their breathing was interrupted during sleep. The goal was to reduce the occurrence to less than one episode per hour.

There was no difference in the effectiveness of adenotonsillectomy between the groups: 22.7 percent of the obese children and 25 percent of the non-obese children achieved the primary goal.

So why isn’t tonsillectomy effective for more kids with sleep apnea? Kaditis and colleagues say individual variations in facial structures or the collapsibility of tissues in the throat could be the reason.

SOURCE: Chest, December 2008.

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