Antibiotics or Tonsillectomy for Adult Recurrent Tonsillitis: Analyzing the Lesser of Two Evils

Tommy Jacob, Moshe Leshno, Narin Nard Carmel-Neidermann, Liyona Kampel, Anton Warshavsky, Joubran Mansour, Nidal Assadi, Nidal Muhanna, Gilad Horowitz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: To determine the best timing for surgical intervention for adults with recurrent tonsillitis (RT). Methods: A Markov model was constructed using variables and ranges based upon a literature review. A 1-way sensitivity analysis was performed to evaluate the number of yearly bouts at which each algorithm (antibiotics or tonsillectomy) would be favored. A Monte-Carlo probabilistic sensitivity analysis was calculated for gains and cost. Model outcomes were measured with quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICER) for tonsillectomy versus repeat antibiotic treatment. Results: Patients expected to sustain a single annual tonsillitis event will have a negative QALY of 0.02 if treated with surgery and those with 2 annual events will have a QALY gain from undergoing tonsillectomy of 0.01, 3 events = 0.03, 4 events = 0.05, 5 events = 0.07, 6 events = 0.09, 7 events = 0.1, and 8 events = 0.11. These gains became meaningful only after 2 years of recurrent bouts. The average cost of tonsillectomy was 3,238 USD, and the overall average cost of RT was 7,069 USD (an incremental cost of 3,831 USD). The ICER of tonsillectomy over antibiotic treatment for 1 QALY gain was 44,741 USD. Conclusion: Adult patients who sustain more than 3 annual bouts of tonsillitis over a period of at least 2 years will gain QALY after tonsillectomy. These gains increase proportionally to the number of yearly events and perennial episodes. The incremental costs of tonsillectomy fail to meet the NICE guidelines but are within other acceptable reference ranges. Level of Evidence: N/A Laryngoscope, 2023.

Original languageEnglish
JournalLaryngoscope
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Keywords

  • antibiotics
  • complications
  • model
  • recurrent tonsillitis (RT)
  • tonsillectomy

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