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May 1962

Poliomyelitic Paralysis and Tonsillectomy Reconsidered

Author Affiliations

Reimert T. Ravenholt, M.D., Division of Epidemiology and Communicable Disease Control, Seattle-King County Department of Health, Room 1500, Public Safety Bldg., Seattle 4.; Director, Division of Epidemiology and Communicable Disease Control Seattle-King County Health Department; Clinical Assistant Professor, Public Health and Preventive Medicine, University of Washington.

Am J Dis Child. 1962;103(5):658-668. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1962.02080020673005

Does tonsillectomy cause lifelong alteration in susceptibility to poliomyelitic bulbar paralysis? This question may soon be only of academic interest because of the rapid progress which is being made in the prevention of paralytic poliomyelitis. But in the interest of scientific truth it seems important to determine the effect of tonsillectomy on poliomyelitic paralysis before nature's poliomyelitis book is closed—which may be within a few seasons.

That tonsillectomy does dispose to bulbar paralysis during the first subsequent month, if the tonsillectomized person becomes infected with poliovirus just before or after the operation, has been amply confirmed by epidemiological1-9 and experimental10-13 studies since it was first suggested14 by Ayer 32 years ago.

But the concept that tonsillectomy produces lifelong increased susceptibility to bulbar paralysis, if the person develops paralytic poliomyelitis, which was suggested by Fischer,15 has not been confirmed by experimental studies and has received less, although

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