Objective: We aimed to investigate the effect of tonsillectomy on oropharyngeal flora in children who underwent tonsillectomy for chronic recurrent tonsillitis. Study Design and Setting: A prospective study was performed comprising patients with chronic recurrent tonsillitis who underwent tonsillectomy at the Department of Otolaryngology, Cerrahpasa Medical School. Incisional core biopsies of excised tonsils were also performed. Swabs and core biopsy specimens were transferred and maintained in Stuart's medium and sent to the Department of Microbiology and Clinical Microbiology at Cerrahpasa Medical School for microbiologic evaluation. Subjects and Methods: Oropharyngeal swabs and tonsillar core biopsy specimens from 31 patients operated on for recurrent tonsillitis were cultured. Follow-up oropharyngeal swabs were cultured one month after tonsillectomy. Results: There was no significant difference between the preoperative and postoperative isolation rate of the potentially pathogenic bacteria. Normal aerobic flora did not change significantly. However, the isolation rate of the Neisseria species dropped (P = 0.097) but did not reach statistical significance. Among anaerobes, Bacteroides fragilis, one of the major anaerobic bacteria, dropped significantly (P = 0.007). The Propionibacterium acnes isolation rate increased significantly (P = 0.009). Conclusion: Oropharyngeal anaerobic bacterial flora decreases after tonsillectomy in recurrent tonsillitis patients. The isolation rate for bacteria of the normal flora and potentially pathogenic bacteria does not change. Tonsils with recurrent infections may become a nidus for anaerobic bacteria. In patients with chronic recurrent tonsillitis, tonsillectomy may help change anaerobic bacterial oropharyngeal flora to the normal flora found in healthy individuals.
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