Read Original Story

Tonsil-Adenoid Surgery May Help Behavior, Too

Rating

2 Star

Tonsil-Adenoid Surgery May Help Behavior, Too

Our Review Summary

In this story, we learn about a new study showing that a common surgery for sleep disturbance in children, adenotonsillectomy, may be effective for children with ADHD. Any new information on the treatment of ADHD is big news. According to the NIH: “between 3 and 5 percent of children have ADHD, or approximately 2 million children in the United States. This means that in a classroom of 25 to 30 children, it is likely that at least one will have ADHD.”

The story is clear that adenotonsillectomy is a common surgery for sleep apnea in the U.S., but that it is now being conisered for treating ADHD as well. This story leads the reader to believe that adenotonsillectomy could be used for all children with ADHD, a very large population given recent trends in diagnosis and treatment. However, this story is really about a research study that looked at children with sleep disturbance who also have ADHD, a much narrower population. The story also does not accurately represent the strength of the available evidence that adenotonsillectomy is effective for ADHD. The opening line of the story refers to “strong evidence,” which is really an overstatement. Although it is true that this is a randomized clinical trial, there are several limiting factors that are not addressed in this story. Specifically, this was a small study and the psychiatrists who assessed the children were not blinded to surgical status, potentially biasing the results. Furthermore, the story does not mention that sleep disturbance at baseline and at one year follow-up did not correlate with behavioral outcomes. This suggests that either there are problems with how sleep disturbance or behavior was measured in this study or that there is some other mechanism other than sleep that is mediating the relationship between the treatment and behavioral outcomes. These issues are not discussed in the story.

The story does not mention any harms associated with the surgery. The harms, although rare, include infection and respiratory complications, and are more common in children with obstructive sleep apnea, the target population in this story.

The story does provide the reader with adequate quantification of the benefits of treatment. Specifically, the number of children with ADHD is provided in the control and surgery group at baseline and at one year follow-up.

We don’t know if the author relied on text from a press release. Only a single expert is quoted, the author of the research article in the journal Pediatrics, so the reader is not provided with balanced perspectives on the importance of these new findings for clinical practice. There is also no mention of other treatment options. For example, CPAP machines should have been mentioned as a non-surgical alternative. Finally, there is also no mention of costs.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

There is no mention of costs.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The story does provide the reader with adequate quantification of the benefits of treatment. Specifically, the number of children with ADHD is provided in the control and surgery group at baseline and at one year follow-up.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention any harms associated with the surgery. The harms, although rare, include infection and respiratory complications, and are more common in children with obstructive sleep apnea, the target population in this story.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not accurately represent the strength of the available evidence that adenotonsillectomy is effective for ADHD. The opening line of the story refers to “strong evidence,” which is really an overstatement. Although it is true that this is a randomized clinical trial, there are several limiting factors that are not adressed in this story. Specifically, this was a small study and the psychiatrists who assessed the children were not blinded to surgical status, potentially biasing the results. Furthermore, this story does not mention that sleep disturbance at baseline and at one year follow-up did not correlate with behavioral outcomes. This suggests that either there are problems with how sleep disturbance or behavior was measured in this study or that there is some other mechanism other than sleep that is mediating the relationship between the treatment and behavioral outcomes. These issues are not discussed in the story.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Satisfactory

This story leads the reader to believe that adenotonsillectomy could be used for all children with ADHD, a very large population given recent trends in diagnosis and treatment. However, this story is really about a research study that looked at children who were scheduled for adenotonsillectomy and found a high proportion of them had sleep disturbance and ADHD, a much narrower population, and the cause and effect is not clear.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

In the story, only a single expert is quoted, the author of the research article in the journal Pediatrics.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

In the story, there is no mention of other treatment options for ADHD or for sleep apnea. For example, CPAP machines should have been mentioned as a non-surgical alternative to adenotonsillectomy for sleep apnea.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The story is clear that adenotonsillectomy is a common surgery in the U.S.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story makes it clear adenotonsillectomy is not a new treatment for sleep apnea, but that it is a new application when used to treat ADHD.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Not Applicable

We can’t judge if the story relied on text from a press release.

Total Score: 3 of 9 Satisfactory

Comments

Please note, comments are no longer published through this website. All previously made comments are still archived and available for viewing through select posts.