Tonsillectomy is the surgical removal of the tonsils to treat infection and inflammation of the tonsils.

April 22, 2022

Tonsillectomy is the surgical removal of the tonsils to treat infection and inflammation of the tonsils.

Some facts about Tonsillectomy:

  • Tonsillectomy is usually performed when tonsillitis occurs frequently or doesn't respond to other treatments.
  • Tonsils are two oval shaped pads of tissue situated at the back of the throat
  • Breathing and other problems related to enlarged tonsils can also be treated by Tonsillectomy.
  • The recovery time for a tonsillectomy is at least 10 days to two weeks.
  • Recurring, chronic or severe tonsillitis, bleeding of the tonsils, complications of enlarged tonsils and other rare diseases of the tonsils can be treated by doing a tonsillectomy.
  • The first line of defense of the immune system against bacteria and viruses that enter your mouth are tonsils. However, the immune system function of tonsil declines after puberty.
  • Frequent, recurring episodes of tonsillitis can be prevented by a tonsillectomy.
  • Tonsillectomy is  also be recommended if tonsillitis caused by a bacterial infection doesn't improve with antibiotic treatment.
  • Tonsillar abscess in which an infection that results in a collection of pus behind a tonsil doesn't improve with drug treatment or a drainage procedure.
  • Tonsils may be naturally large or become enlarged after frequent or persistent infections which can result in difficulty breathing or obstructive sleep apnea. These complications caused by enlarged tonsils can be treated by tonsillectomy.
  • Other rare diseases or conditions of the tonsils, such as malignancy in one or both tonsils or suspected malignancy, recurrent bleeding from blood vessels near the surface of the tonsils and severe bad breath related to debris in the crevices of tonsils can also be treated by a tonsillectomy.
  • Reactions to anesthetics, swelling of the tongue and soft roof of the mouth causing breathing problems, bleeding during surgery or healing and infection are some of the possible risk associated with tonsillectomy.
  • Generally, only children need to have their tonsils taken out. However, adults may also benefit from having their tonsils removed.

Preparation for Tonsillectomy:

  • You should inform about all medications, including over-the-counter drugs and dietary supplements, taken regularly, personal or family history of adverse reactions to anesthetics, personal or family history of bleeding disorders and known allergy or other negative reactions to medications, such as antibiotics to your health care provider before the procedure.
  • You may be asked to stop taking some medications or change dosages of medications several days before the surgery.
  • You are not allowed to eat anything after midnight before the scheduled surgery. The instructions about eating food and drinking liquids will be provided prior to reporting to the hospital.
  • A sleep study known as polysomnography will be done if a tonsillectomy has to be done for treating obstructive sleep apnea, other obstructions of the airway and some other conditions.

Procedure for Tonsillectomy:

  • You will be able to go home the day of the surgery as tonsillectomy is usually done as an outpatient procedure. However, an overnight stay may be required if complications arise, if the surgery is done on a young child or if you have a complex medical condition.
  • You won't be aware of the procedure or experience pain during the surgery as a tonsillectomy is performed under general anesthesia.
  • The tonsils will be cut by the surgeon using a blade or scalpel or a specialized surgical tool that uses heat or high-energy heat or sound waves to remove or destroy tissues and stop bleeding.
  • A tonsillectomy can be performed in many different ways. The technique that is best for the particular patient will be used by the surgeon.
  • Usually, all of the tonsils are removed, but some patients may benefit from a partial tonsillectomy.
  • Electrocautery is a method that uses heat to remove the tonsils and stop any bleeding.
  • The tonsils are removed with a scalpel during a cold knife dissection. Sutures or electrocautery will be used to stop bleeding.
  • Harmonic scalpel is a method in which ultrasonic vibrations will be used to cut and stop bleeding from the tonsils at the same time.
  • Radiofrequency ablation techniques, a carbon dioxide laser, and/or a microdebrider can also be used in some other methods.

Recovery from Tonsillectomy:

  • Pain medications should be taken as directed by your surgeon to manage the pain after surgery which is usually experienced in the throat, ears, neck or jaw for one to two weeks.
  • Plenty of fluids should be taken after surgery to avoid dehydration.
  • Foods that are easy to swallow are the best choices immediately after surgery. Acidic, spicy, hard or crunchy foods that may cause pain or bleeding should be avoided.
  • Snoring or noisy breathing is common during the first week of recovery. However, get emergency care if you are having difficulty breathing.
  • Strenuous activities such as running and bike riding should be avoided for two weeks after surgery.
  • There may be discoloration in the area where the tonsils were removed which will go when the area is healed completely in about 3 to 4 weeks.
  • The risk of bleeding after a tonsillectomy decreases after 10 days.
  • Contact your doctor if you have bright red bleeding from your mouth, a fever higher than 101 degree F that does not get better with acetaminophen, uncontrolled pain or becoming dehydrated after a tonsillectomy