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Breathing easier

Rating

4 Star

Breathing easier

Our Review Summary

This article presents good information on a newer rational for removing children’s tonsils – to treat sleep apnea. It presents the interesting medical history of tonsillectomy in children which at one time was nearly ‘a rite of passage’ for children but was not found in the long run to be a more effective means of stopping throat infections. The article failed to provide evidence for the benefit of tonsillectomy for sleep apnea. The single case highlighted reportedly benefited from the surgical intervention. However data comparing children with sleep apnea who do and don’t have their tonsils removed are not provided. The reader is left to wonder whether children outgrow their sleep apnea much as they were found to outgrow their proclivity for sore throats in the previous generation. Costs of the operation were not mentioned.

Will tonsillectomy for sleep apnea, like tonsillectomy for sore throat, come to be seen as an overused procedure for children? Focusing on this quandary would have improved the quality of this story.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

No costs for tonsillectomy were provided.

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

Not Satisfactory

The single case highlighted reportedly benefited from the surgical intervention. However data comparing children with sleep apnea who do and don’t have their tonsils removed are not provided. The reader is left to wonder whether children outgrow their sleep apnea much as they were found to outgrow their proclivity for sore throats in the previous generation.

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

Satisfactory

The complications associated with tonsillectomies for all causes was presented as ranging from 1 to 6 in 100 with 1 in 40,000 patients dying. However this does not appear to be specific for those children having tonsillectomy for the treatment of sleep apnea.

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

Not Satisfactory

This article contained a lot of interesting information, however evidence related directly to the benefits and harms of tonsillectomies for the treatment of sleep apnea in children was lacking.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

In the early portion of the article, the tone is that it is necessary for children with sleep apnea to have their tonsils removed. However, there is better balance later as seen with the two quotes by Dr. Paradise, who first said that sleep apnea was “a perfectly legitimate reason ” for tonsillectomy but also sid that “If my grandchildren needed it, I’d probably drag my feet a little longer on having it done.”

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

Satisfactory

Several experts with different perspectives on the importance of tonsillectomy in children provided quotes that were included in this article.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

Though the case for tonsillectomy was at times overstated in this article (i.e. “the boy’s tonsils had to go), sleep apnea remedies such as the use of a medical device to ensure adequate air in the lungs, and surgical interventions other than tonsillectomy were mentioned.

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

Satisfactory

Though tonsillectomies are not as commonly performed as in previous generations of children, they are still among the more common surgical procedures in this age group. Though not explicitly stated, the article implied that it was widely available.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

Tonsillectomy in children, as this article points out, is nothing new. What has changed, as detailed in this story, is the rational given for tonsillectomy.

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

Satisfactory

This article does not appear to be solely based on a press release.

Total Score: 7 of 10 Satisfactory

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