The Poplar St. parking lot at the Juravinski Cancer Centre is closed from June 3 to September 27. Click here for more info.

Hamilton Health Sciences Home
June 7, 2024

Scheduled tonsil and adenoid surgical procedures paused at MCH

Updated June 7

Hamilton Health Sciences has paused scheduled tonsil and adenoid surgical procedures for patients under the age of 18 at McMaster Children’s Hospital, as of Tuesday June 4, 2024. HHS is pausing this program out of an abundance of caution, after two pediatric deaths following discharge from tonsil and/or adenoid surgery at McMaster Children’s Hospital. One child passed away the day after their surgery and the second child passed away nine days after their initial surgery. We want to extend our deepest condolences to these families.

While there is no apparent connection between these two cases, we are also undertaking a comprehensive review by external subject matter experts of our pediatric program for tonsil and adenoid surgeries. Only emergency pediatric tonsil and adenoid surgeries will proceed. All adult ear, nose, throat (ENT) surgeries are proceeding. The ENT Clinic also remains operational. 

Severe complications and death arising from this pediatric surgical procedure are rare, and our teams follow clinical guidelines from the Canadian Society of Otolaryngology and American Society of Otoloryngology. However, there are known complications/risks associated with all surgeries and procedures. The Canadian Society of Otolaryngology notes that “Tonsillectomy is considered major surgery. The main risk is bleeding, which can be serious. About 5% of patients bleed after surgery (and might need to return to the operating room to have the bleeding stopped). Most bleeds occur 7 to 10 days after surgery, but rarely, a bleed can occur as late as 17 days after surgery.”

Last year, McMaster Children’s Hospital performed 584 pediatric tonsil-only or tonsillectomy with adenoid surgeries. The rate of patients who returned to the emergency department was approximately 5.8%, which is comparable to the expected rate reported by the Canadian Society of Otolaryngology.

Patient safety is the most important priority at our hospital and we will only resume scheduled surgeries once the review is complete.

We recognize that this is a difficult message for our patients and families.

We are now in the process of contacting patients and families about their scheduled surgeries. For those who have questions about their tonsil and/or adenoid surgery, they may follow up with their care provider as needed.

Patients/families may also contact Hamilton Health Sciences’ Patient Experience department at or 905-521-2100 ext. 75240.