Taking out a child's tonsils and adenoids does little to combat ear infections, even though that is the reason such surgeries are often performed, according to a study published Tuesday.
"Given that we found both operations to have limited efficacy and in view of their not inconsiderable risks, morbidity and costs, we believe that neither operation ordinarily should be considered as an initial intervention" in children with chronic middle ear infections, the report from Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh said.
"Instead, we believe that non-surgical management should be attempted first, with tube placement to be considered later as the preferred first surgical recourse if the burden of illness becomes intolerable."
After that, adenoid removal should be considered in cases where middle ear infections continue despite the use of ear tubes, the report said.
The study, published in this week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, was based on a look at 461 children ages 3 to 15.