A study of the effect of tonsillectomy on the frequency of sickle cell pain crises was carried out on 15 patients with sickle cell disease (Hb SS) who presented with complaints of frequent pain crises and were found to have chronic tonsillitis. They comprised 9 females and 6 males and ranged in age from 6 to 35 years, with a mean of 15 years. Tonsillectomy was performed under general anaesthesia. The mean number of pain crises in the one-year period after tonsillectomy was 1.5 and was significantly less than the mean number 4.7 in the one year preceding the operation (p<0.001). Four patients failed to show a reduced number of crises and these were those whose tonsils at operation showed no pus in their tonsillar crypts. It is thus observed that chronic tonsillitis, symptoms of which may not be volunteered at examination, is a potent inductor of sickle cell pain crisis and that tonsillectomy is an effective mode of treatment, especially when the tonsillar crypts contain pus.
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