Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews From the Frontline

Bad medicine: paediatric ear, nose, and throat surgery

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 17 November 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c6560
  1. Des Spence, general practitioner, Glasgow
  1. destwo{at}

When I was 6 years old I once woke with pus and blood on my pillow. Concerned, my mother took me to our doctor, who sent me to the local hospital. There they physically pinned me down and suctioned out my discharging ear. I can still feel the pain of that event and now reflect: why did they do this procedure? Current common paediatric ear, nose, and throat operations include grommets, tonsillectomy, and adenoidectomy. But why operate?

Grommets are used in otitis media with effusion, more commonly called glue ear. …

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