August 22, 2012

Bacteremia IS Present During Tonsillectomy!

@ENTHouse brought to my attention a very interesting research regarding the presence of bacteria in the bloodstream during tonsillectomy, both elective and quinsy. Elective tonsillectomy is when the tonsils are removed in the absence of any significant infection. Quinsy tonsillectomy is when the tonsils are removed in the setting of a peritonsillar abscess.

The research involved obtaining blood cultures, tonsillar swabs, core tissue, and pus aspirates during the operation on 80 patients undergoing elective surgery and 36 undergoing quinsy surgery.

What they found was,
"Bacteremia was detected in 73% of patients during elective tonsillectomy compared to 56% during quinsy tonsillectomy. Significantly more blood culture bottles were positive for each isolate obtained from elective tonsillectomy cases compared to quinsy tonsillectomy cases. In all, 59% and 42% of electively and acutely tonsillectomized patients, respectively, had bacteremia with microorganisms that are predominant in bacterial endocarditis. Ninety-three percent of the isolated strains were sensitive to amoxicillin, and all were sensitive to amoxicillin with clavulanic acid." [link]
Amoxicillin with clavulanic acid is also known as Augmentin.

What is fascinating is the high rate of bacteria presence in the bloodstream during a routine elective tonsillectomy... even higher rates than tonsils which are actively and terribly infected. Perhaps because those with an active infection are already on antibiotics thereby suppressing bacteria in the bloodstream? Also, with an abscess, the pus pocket is already walled off by inflammatory tissue thereby preventing further leaching of bacteria into the bloodstream?

Regardless, these findings are especially interesting in light of the fact that antibiotics are not routinely recommended before, during, or after surgery!

Watch a video showing how a tonsillectomy is performed here!

Bacteremia during quinsy and elective tonsillectomy: an evaluation of antibiotic prophylaxis recommendations for patients undergoing tonsillectomy. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol Ther. 2012 Sep;17(3):298-302. Epub 2011 Oct 24.
Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

Banner Map

Pediatric Neck Masses

Adult Neck Mass Workup