Age-related tonsillar regrowth in children undergoing powered intracapsular tonsillectomy.


Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY, United States.




To review our experience with intracapsular tonsillectomy using powered instrumentation (PIT) in the management of tonsillar hypertrophy.


Retrospective database review of pediatric patients undergoing PIT.


The medical records of 636 patients under 11 years of age who underwent PIT performed by the senior author (RFW), predominantly for obstructive sleep disturbance, were reviewed. Data were subsequently analyzed from 559 of these patients for clinical evidence of tonsillar regrowth, post-operative tonsillar hemorrhage, and post-operative dehydration due to pain. Specific information for possible correlation of age at the time of surgery and any increased rate of regrowth was primarily examined.


There were a total of 33 patients who had clinical evidence of regrowth. Children less than 5 years of age had 5 times the incidence of regrowth (p<0.001). Out of the group that exhibited regrowth, 5 patients exhibited evidence of recurrent upper airway obstruction and underwent a complete tonsillectomy. The age of this complete tonsillectomy group ranged from 1.1 to 2.7 years. Out of all patients undergoing PIT, there was 1 incident of delayed post-operative dehydration due to emesis but not due to pain. There were 2 incidents of delayed post-operative tonsillar bleeds. All three complications were self-limited and did not require re-hospitalization.


PIT is a safe procedure with a small risk of tonsillar regrowth being age related. The incidence of postoperative complications following PIT is relatively low (0.54%).