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February 4, 1974

Tonsillectomy Mortality

Author Affiliations


JAMA. 1974;227(5):557. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230180055022

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To the Editor.—  The death rate per 10,000 from tonsillectomy with adenoidectomy from all Professional Activity Study (PAS) hospitals in 1969 was 0.5 (Kincaid WH: Commission on Professional and Hospital Activities, 9:12, 1971). There were 14 deaths from a total of 264,687 patients.Recently we have reviewed our own experience at Pittsburgh Eye and Ear Hospital. Since 1954, a total of 41,758 (6,048 adults and 35,710 children) had tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy, or both. All the children and the majority of adults were done under general anesthesia. Up until 1966, ether was the most commonly used anesthetic agent. It has gradually been replaced by halothane, and ether is no longer used. There have been no deaths. There were two cardiac arrests on induction of anesthesia in children, one using halothane and the other using halothane-ether. Both were successfully resuscitated without complications.