Role of palatine tonsillectomy in the diagnostic workup of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma of unknown primary origin: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Pasquale Di Maio, Oreste Iocca, Armando De Virgilio, Fabio Ferreli, Giovanni Cristalli, Raul Pellini, Pawel Golusinski, Giampietro Ricci, Giuseppe Spriano

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


BACKGROUND: This systematic review and meta-analysis aims to evaluate the effectiveness of palatine tonsillectomy in patients with cervical metastasis from squamous cell carcinoma of unknown primary (SCCUP) origin.

METHODS: A systematic review including studies that encompassed palatine tonsillectomy in the SSCUP diagnostic evaluation was conducted. A single arm meta-analysis was then made to obtain the overall identification rate of tonsillectomy.

RESULTS: Fourteen studies were included, comprising 673 patients who underwent 416 palatine tonsillectomies, 338 preformed during examination under anesthesia (EUA) and 78 managed with transoral robotic surgery (TORS). A total of 140 occult tonsillar malignancies were identified; of these, 124 (89%) were ipsilateral, 2 (1%) contralateral, and 14 (10%) synchronous bilateral. Meta-analysis of 11 studies showed an overall detection rate of tonsillectomy of 0.34 (99% confidence interval 0.23-0.46).

CONCLUSION: Palatine tonsillectomy is a valuable diagnostic tool in the management of patients with head and neck SCCUP. Bilaterality of tonsillectomy should be taken into consideration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1112-1121
Number of pages10
JournalHead and Neck Surgery
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


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