Does My Child Need To Have A Tonsillectomy At A Children’s Hospital?

Doctor Examining Child's Tonsils
Many parents wonder if their child needs to have their surgeries performed at a children’s specialty hospital. These establishments provide wonderful services for the medical world as they can focus on enhanced care for a special subset of the population: our children. A drawback though, is they are not local to many patients, and traveling for routine surgery can be inconvenient and cumbersome. One recent study of tonsillectomies published in the Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery Journal showed there is also a significant increased cost, and surprisingly, rate of complications.

Tonsillectomy is one of the most common pediatric surgical procedures performed in the United States today. With advancements in medical technology and practices, the surgery has been increasingly performed safely and efficiently at community hospitals and freestanding surgical centers alike.

This study on tonsillectomy revealed a dramatic $3,000 increase in cost when performed at a children’s specialty hospital. Children’s hospital stays were also longer, and shockingly, the higher odds of having a complication were considered “significant”. The reasons for these differences are unknown, but some speculate the hospitals’ higher facility fees, and treating a higher volume of sicker children.

Children’s specialty hospitals are invaluable especially for those in need of unique and complicated care. Routine procedures such as tonsillectomy, however, have been performed in community settings without routine specialty hospital admission for decades. This is because of the procedure’s straight forwardness and low complication rate. The most frequent complication is bleeding after the surgery, which occurs in approximately two to five percent of children. Bleeding will typically occur within the first 24 hours, or five to 10 days after surgery. Although rare, significant bleeding needs to be stopped quickly. This places additional hazards on your child’s care if quick access to your children’s hospital surgeon is not feasible.

So does your child need to have all surgeries at a specialty hospital? Only you can make that decision, but experts agree that routine surgeries such as tonsillectomy, in properly selected patients, are safe and frequently more pleasant experiences in the community setting.

Advanced Ear, Nose and Throat Care’s board-certified ENT doctors regularly perform tonsillectomy, and other ENT procedures including endoscopic sinus surgery, balloon sinuplasty, removal of nasal polyps, and the correction of deviated septum. Please schedule a consultation with one of our Ear, Nose and Throat specialists to discuss the best options for your child. We have ENT offices in Fairfield County, CT in the towns of Danbury, New Milford, Norwalk, Ridgefield and Southbury.


Topics: Blog, Ear, Nose & Throat