Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Tonsil


BACKGROUND: Nanotechnology is receiving enormous funding. Very little however is known about the health dangers of this technology so far. Chronic tonsillitis is one of a number of diseases called idiopathic. Among other factors, the tonsils are exposed to suspended particles in inhaled air including nano particles. The objective of this study was to detect and evaluate metallic particles in human tonsil tissue diagnosed with chronic tonsillitis and in amniotic fluid as a comparison. METHODS: Scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDX) was used for identification of solid particles in a total of 64 samples of routinely analyzed biopsy and cytologic material. RESULTS: Almost all samples were found to contain solid particles of various metals. The most frequent, regardless of diagnosis, were iron, chromium, nickel and aluminium. The size, determined using SEM, varied from around 500 nm to 25 µm. The majority formed aggregates of several micrometers in size but there were a significant number of smaller (sub-micrometer or nano-sized) particles present. The incidence of metallic particles was similar in child and adult tissues. The difference was in composition: the presence of several metals in adults was due to occupational exposure. CONCLUSIONS: The presence of metallic particles in pathologically altered tissues may signal an alternative causation of some diseases. The ethiopathogenic explanation of these diseases associated with the presence of nano-sized particles in the organism has emerged into a new field of pathology, nanopathology.

Concepts: Iron, Metal, Scanning electron microscope, Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, Tonsil, Tonsillectomy, Tonsillitis, Tonsillolith


OBJECTIVES: It has been suggested that bacterial biofilms are involved in chronic tonsillar disease, but there is a lack of strong evidence concerning their etiopathogenic role in childhood chronic tonsillar infections. The aim of this study was to assess the presence of biofilm-producing bacteria (BPB) in tonsillar bioptic specimens taken from children with recurrent exacerbations of chronic hyperplastic tonsillitis, and to evaluate the possible relationship between them and the patients' demographic and clinical characteristics. METHODS: 22 children (68.2% males; median age 6.5 years, range 3-13) with recurrent exacerbations of chronic hyperplastic tonsillitis were included. The presence of tonsillar BPB was assessed by means of the spectrophotometric analysis of tonsillar bioptic specimens taken during tonsillectomy between episodes of tonsillar infection. RESULTS: BPB were found in 50.0% of the 44 tonsillar specimens, and Staphylococcus aureus was the most frequent pathogen (81.8%). There was a significant relationship (p=0.02) between the grade of tonsillar hyperplasy (GTH) and the presence of tonsillar BPB, with an increased relative risk (RR=4.27, standard error=2.57, p<0.01) of tonsillar BPB development in children with GTH scores of >2. CONCLUSIONS: The findings of this study: (1) confirm the presence of tonsillar BPB in children with recurrent exacerbations of chronic tonsillar infections; (2) suggest that GTH is an important indicator of the presence of tonsillar BPB; and (3) raise the question as to whether tonsillar biofilm is a causative factor or just a consequence of recurrent exacerbations of chronic hyperplastic tonsillitis.

Concepts: Bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus, Infection, Staphylococcus, Biofilm, Tonsil, Tonsillectomy, Tonsillitis


BACKGROUND: Tonsils are secondary lymphoid organs located in the naso- and oropharynx of most mammalian species. Most tonsils are characterised by crypts surrounded by dense lymphoid tissue. However, tonsils without crypts have also been recognised. Gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), although not well-organised and lacking tonsillar crypts, is abundant in the avian oropharynx and has been referred to as the “pharyngeal tonsil”. In this context the pharyngeal folds present in the oropharynx of ratites have erroneously been named the pharyngeal tonsils. This study distinguishes between the different types and arrangements of lymphoid tissue in the pharyngeal region of D. novaehollandiae and S. camelus and demonstrates that both species possess a true pharyngeal tonsil which fits the classical definition of tonsils in mammals. RESULTS: The pharyngeal tonsil (Tonsilla pharyngea) of D. novaehollandiae was located on the dorsal free surface of the pharyngeal folds and covered by a small caudo-lateral extension of the folds whereas in S. camelus the tonsil was similarly located on the dorsal surface of the pharyngeal folds but was positioned retropharyngeally and encapsulated by loose connective tissue. The pharyngeal tonsil in both species was composed of lymph nodules, inter-nodular lymphoid tissue, mucus glands, crypts and intervening connective tissue septa. In S. camelus a shallow tonsillar sinus was present. Aggregated lymph nodules and inter-nodular lymphoid tissue was associated with the mucus glands on the ventral surface of the pharyngeal folds in both species and represented the Lymphonoduli pharyngeales. Similar lymphoid tissue, but more densely packed and situated directly below the epithelium, was present on the dorsal, free surface of the pharyngeal folds and represented a small, non-follicular tonsil. CONCLUSIONS: The follicular pharyngeal tonsils in D. novaehollandiae and S. camelus are distinct from the pharyngeal folds in these species and perfectly fit the classical mammalian definition of pharyngeal tonsils. The presence of a true pharyngeal tonsil differentiates these two ratite species from other known avian species where similar structures have not been described. The pharyngeal tonsils in these ratites may pose a suitable and easily accessible site for immune response surveillance as indicated by swelling and inflammation of the tonsillar tissue and pharyngeal folds. This would be facilitated by the fact that the heads of these commercially slaughtered ratites are discarded, thus sampling at these sites would not result in financial losses.

Concepts: Inflammation, Lymph node, Lymphatic system, Interstitial fluid, Tonsil



The pathogenesis of human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma is currently an important topic of elucidation. The presence of latent HPV infection in tonsil tissue of healthy adults may provide an explanation for a component of this process and contribute to the understanding of HPV-associated squamous cell carcinoma oncogenesis of the oropharynx.

Concepts: Immune system, Cancer, Human papillomavirus, Lung cancer, Squamous cell carcinoma, Head and neck cancer, Tonsil, HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer


We aim to determine average volumes of the upper airway, adenoids and tonsils in preterm and term infants and assess for the differences according to weight, sex and ethnicity. The volumes of the upper airways, tonsils and adenoids were measured from brain MR images in 96 (49 preterm and 47 term) infants and compared using a two-tailed t-test (significant at p<0.05). The average volumes are reported for both groups. Term infants showed larger naso- and oropharyngeal volumes (independent of weight, sex, and ethnicity). No differences in hypopharyngeal, adenoidal or tonsillar volumes were found.

Concepts: Magnetic resonance imaging, Lymphatic system, Student's t-test, Respiratory system, According to Jim, Airway, Tonsil, Oropharyngeal airway


Recent studies suggest that tonsilloliths are clinically related to halitosis and tonsillar abscess. Based on our empirical knowledge, tonsilloliths are relatively commonly encountered in daily clinical practice. It has been reported that the detection rate of tonsilloliths was under 24% in previous reports, although experience suggests otherwise. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the prevalence and characteristics of tonsilloliths using computed tomography (CT). In addition, the possible causes of low detection rates on panoramic radiographs were evaluated based on comparisons between CT images and panoramic radiographs in order to elucidate the limitations of visualizing the area around the palatine tonsils on panoramic radiographs.

Concepts: Medical imaging, Radiography, Report, Rates, Clinical death, Tonsil, Tonsillitis, Tonsillolith


IMPORTANCE Tonsillectomy is one of the most commonly performed otolaryngology procedures. The safety of this procedure in adults is based on small case series. To our knowledge, we report the first population-level analysis of the safety of adult tonsillectomies in the United States. OBJECTIVE To characterize the mortality, complication, and reoperation rate in adult tonsillectomy. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS Retrospective cohort study of 5968 adult patients who underwent tonsillectomy with records in the database of the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (2005 to 2011). INTERVENTION Tonsillectomy. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Outcomes of interest included mortality, complications, and reoperation in the 30-day postoperative period. Statistical analysis included χ2 test, t test, and multivariate logistic regression. RESULTS The 30-day mortality rate was 0.03%, the complication rate was 1.2%, and the reoperation rate was 3.2%. Most patients had a primary diagnosis of chronic tonsillitis and/or adenoiditis (82.9%), and the most common complications were pneumonia (27% of all complications), urinary tract infection (27%), and superficial site infections (16%). Patients who underwent reoperation were more likely to be male (54.0% vs 32.4%; P < .001), white (84.8% vs 75.3%; P = .02), or inpatients (24.3% vs 14.3%; P < .001) and to have postoperative complications (5.3% vs 1.1%; P < .001) than those who did not return to the operating room. On multivariate analysis, male sex (odds ratio [OR], 2.30 [95% CI, 1.67-3.15]), inpatient status (OR, 1.52 [95% CI, 1.04-2.22]), and the presence of a postoperative complication (OR, 4.58 [95% CI, 2.11-9.93]) were independent risk factors for reoperation. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE In the United States, adult tonsillectomy is a safe procedure with low rates of mortality and morbidity. The most common posttonsillectomy complications were infectious in etiology, and complications were independently associated with the need for reoperation.

Concepts: Cohort study, Epidemiology, Urinary tract infection, Medical statistics, Actuarial science, Tonsil, Tonsillectomy, Tonsillitis


Tonsillolith is a calcified mass in the tonsil and/or its surrounding tissue considered to be caused by chronic tonsillitis. However, here we hypothesised that a tonsillolith can also be formed by chronic saliva stasis in the tonsillar tissue, without any signs of chronic inflammation. We present a case of 32-year-old male patient with large tonsillolith. We reviewed his medical files, preoperative imaging and intraoperative findings. During a standard tonsillectomy we encountered a large tonsillolith measuring 3.1 x 2.6 cm. Additionally, a careful dissection of the lower pole of the remaining tonsillar tissue revealed a large fistulous tract filled with saliva. Postoperative examination of the preoperative computerized tomography scan found a hypodense fistulous tract extending from the lower tonsillar pole toward the left submandibular gland, measuring 36 mm in length, which was diagnosed as accessory duct of the submandibular gland. To our knowledge, this is the first case of a large tonsillolith associated with the accessory duct of the ipsilateral major salivary gland. Furthermore, from the aetiopathological view, this finding supports the saliva stasis hypothesis for formation of the tonsillolith. However, larger studies including a detailed radiological analyses as in our case, are needed to further investigate this possible aetiology of tonsilloliths.

Concepts: Saliva, Salivary gland, Submandibular gland, Sublingual gland, Tonsil, Tonsillectomy, Tonsillitis, Tonsillolith


Human palatine tonsils are oropharyngeal lymphoid tissues containing multiple invaginations (crypts) in which the continuity of the outer surface epithelium is disrupted and the isolated epithelial cells intermingle with other cell types. We now show that primitive epithelial cells detectable in vitro in 2D colony assays and in a 3D culture system are CD44(+)NGFR(+) and present in both surface and crypt regions. Transcriptome analysis indicated a high similarity between CD44(+)NGFR(+) cells in both regions, although those isolated from the crypt contained a higher proportion of the most primitive (holo)clonogenic cells. Lentiviral transduction of CD44(+)NGFR(+) cells from both regions with human papillomavirus 16-encoded E6/E7 prolonged their growth in 2D cultures and caused aberrant differentiation in 3D cultures. Our findings therefore reveal a shared, site-independent, hierarchical organization, differentiation potential, and transcriptional profile of normal human tonsillar epithelial progenitor cells. They also introduce a new model for investigating the mechanisms of their transformation.

Concepts: Gene expression, Developmental biology, Epithelium, Culture, Tissues, Lymphatic system, Cervix, Tonsil