Tonsillectomy - series

Toggle: English / Spanish

Normal anatomy

Tonsil glands are located in the back of the throat. They contain immune cells which fight infection.

Normal anatomy

Indications

Tonsillectomy is advisable when tonsillitis attacks are so frequent or severe that they affect a child's general health or interfere with school, hearing, or breathing. However, tonsillectomies are thought to be done more often than necessary, so a second opinion should be obtained when there is any doubt.

Specifically, the guidelines for surgery are:

  • 5 or more episodes of tonsillitis in one year, or
  • 3 or more episodes per year over a 2-year period, or
  • upper airway obstruction due to tonsillar hypertrophy
  • recurrent tonsillar abscess

Tonsillectomy is advised if the tonsils are enlarged and obstructing access to the adenoid during an adenoidectomy operation, or the physician suspects the presence of a tonsil tumor.

Indications

Procedure

Under general anesthesia, the ear-nose-throat (ENT) surgeon holds the mouth open and pulls the tongue forward to reveal the tonsils. The tonsils are pulled away from the back of the throat and then removed by being cut away. Bleeding is controlled, and often the cut heals naturally without stitches.

Procedure

Aftercare

Patients are generally observed in the hospital for between 12 and 24 hours after surgery. Removal of the tonsils is not known to cause any problems later in life.

Aftercare

Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 11/12/2012
  • Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch)

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional 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. © 1997- 2013 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

This page was last updated: April 14, 2014

         
Average rating (0)