The histopathology of routine tonsillectomy specimens: results of a study and review of literature

Document Type



Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery


Controversy continues to attend the routine histologic examination of tonsillectomy specimens. We performed a retrospective evaluation of 400 tonsil specimens removed from 200 patients. We found that 68.3% of the specimens contained reactive lymphoid hyperplasia, 13.5% had follicular hyperplasia, 10.0% represented acute or chronic tonsillitis, and 7.5% were normal. Only one case of malignancy was detected: a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in one tonsil of a patient who was a cigarette smoker and who had asymmetric tonsils. The results of our study, taken in combination with data already published in the literature, indicate that routine histologic examination of tonsillectomy specimens is unnecessary and results only in added costs and a loss of man-hours. However, in patients who have certain preoperative risk factors, a histopathologic evaluation of tonsillar specimens remains mandatory.


Ear, Nose, and Throat Journal