June 09, 2024

2 Kids Die after Tonsil and Adenoid Surgery (T&A) at Children's Hospital

This month, it was reported that 2 children died after tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy (T&A) surgery at McMaster Children's Hospital in Canada. One died in May 2024 and the other in June 2024. No details have been provided in terms of age, surgeon, or circumstances other than one died the day after surgery and the other 9 days after surgery. A third child "almost" died during this same time period at the same hospital in a separate report.

Death after T&A surgery is exceedingly rare occurring only 7 per 100,000 surgeries. However, given 500,000 T&A surgeries are performed every year in the United States, that results in about 35 deaths per year, most which go unreported in the general media. The most common causes of death after T&A surgery in kids is bleeding and narcotic overdose. In order to minimize narcotic overdose risks, tylenol and ibuprofen are the preferred drugs to treat pain. However, bleeding can occur even if surgery is performed perfectly and all precautions taken.

As such, T&A surgery although commonly performed, should only be undertaken if there is true medical necessity present as the risks, albeit rare, can be dire.

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.

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