Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date

Summer 7-1974

Publication Title

A Report by the Cooperative Health Information Center of Vermont, Inc.


Geisel School of Medicine


The tonsils and adenoids have been subject to a widespread uncontrolled therapeutic experiment over the past half century so that at times and in certain segments of the society, less than half of the children have reached adulthood with these organs intact. While the operation has been recorded in ancient history, its popularity is associated with the advent of modern surgery and anesthesia. Tonsillectomy began to increase in frequency early in the century with a precipitous rise following World War I. Procedure rates continued at high levels since the 1930s and only in the past decade has there been evidence of a decline. Presently, over 1 million tonsillectomies are performed each year in the United States at a total cost estimated to exceed 250 million dollars. It continues to be the single most common surgical procedure performed in the United States and Canada and is the main reason for the hospitalization of children.

Original Citation

Wennberg, John. “Vermont Surgery Study, 1969-1971: On the Incidence of Tonsillectomy and Other Common Types of Surgery”, A Report by the Cooperative Health Information Center of Vermont, Burlington, VT, July 1974.