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Tonsillectomy


Alternative Names:

Tonsils removal

Description:

The surgery is done while the child is under general anesthesia. Your child will be asleep and pain-free.

  • The surgeon will place a small tool into your child's mouth to hold it open.
  • The surgeon then cuts, burns, or shaves away the tonsils. The wounds heal naturally without stitches.

After surgery, your child will stay in the recovery room until they are awake and can breathe easily, cough, and swallow. Most children go home several hours after this surgery.

Why the Procedure Is Performed:

The tonsils help protect against infections. But children with large tonsils may have many sore throats and ear infections.

You and your child's health care provider may consider a tonsillectomy if:

  • Your child has infections often (seven or more times in 1 year, or five or more times over 2 years).
  • Your child misses a lot of school.
  • Your child has trouble breathing.
  • Your child has abscess or growth on their tonsils.
Risks:

Risks for anesthesia and surgery in general include:

Rarely, bleeding after surgery can go unnoticed and cause very bad problems. Swallowing a lot may be a sign of bleeding from the tonsils.

Another risk includes injury to the uvula (soft palate).

Outlook (Prognosis):

After surgery, the number of throat infections is most often lower, but your child may still get some.

References:

Wetmore RF. Tonsils and adenoids. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 375.


Review Date: 11/25/2014
Reviewed By: Ashutosh Kacker, MD, BS, Professor of Clinical Otolaryngology, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Attending Otolaryngologist, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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