Lingual Tonsillectomy for Pediatric Persistent Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

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To determine the role of lingual tonsillectomy (LT) in pediatric patients with persistent obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) after tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy (T&A).

Data Sources

PubMed, OVID-MEDLINE, and Cochrane Central from 2006 to 2017.

Review Methods

Inclusion criteria included English-language studies containing original data on LT in pediatric patients with persistent OSA. Exclusion criteria included case reports and studies without outcome measures. Two investigators independently reviewed all manuscripts and performed quality assessment using validated tools. Meta-analysis was performed.


Of the 866 abstracts identified, 5 studies met inclusion criteria. All studies were case series (level of evidence 4). Outcome measures included apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), minimum oxygen saturation (minSaO2), comorbidity status, and adverse events. Qualitatively, all studies demonstrated reduction in AHI and increase in minSaO2 after LT. Comorbidities may not affect the success of LT for lingual tonsil hypertrophy (LTH). LT had similar adverse event rates as T&A. Meta-analysis was performed on 4 studies. LT showed a mean change in reduction of AHI and increase of minSaO2 of −6.64 (95% CI, −8.63 to −4.65) and 4.17 (95% CI, 1.25-7.08), respectively. The overall success rate, defined as postoperative AHI <5, was 52%.


LT for LTH can be a safe and effective adjunct surgery for persistent OSA in patients after T&A. LT may reduce AHI and increase minSaO2, though complete resolution of OSA is rare. Given the limited number of patients studied, no formal recommendations can be made for the routine use of LT for LTH in persistent pediatric OSA.

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