Tonsils removal; Tonsillitis - tonsillectomy; Pharyngitis - tonsillectomy; Sore throat - tonsillectomy
Tonsillectomy is a surgery to remove the tonsils.
The tonsils are glands at the back of your throat. The tonsils are often removed along with the adenoid glands. That surgery is called adenoidectomy and is most often done in children.
The surgery is done while the child is under general anesthesia. Your child will be asleep and pain-free.
After surgery, your child will stay in the recovery room until he or she is awake and can breathe easily, cough, and swallow. Most children go home several hours after this surgery.
The tonsils help protect against infections. But children with large tonsils may have problems breathing at night. The tonsils may also trap excess bacteria which can lead to frequent or very painful sore throats. In either of these cases, the child's tonsils have become more harmful than protective.
You and your child's health care provider may consider a tonsillectomy if:
The risks for any anesthesia are:
The risks for any surgery are:
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).
Your child's provider may ask your child to have:
Always tell your child's provider what drugs your child is taking. Include any drugs, herbs, or vitamins you bought without a prescription
During the days before the surgery:
On the day of the surgery:
Learn how to prepare for your child's tonsil or adenoid surgery.
A tonsillectomy is most often done in a hospital or surgery center. Your child will go home the same day as the surgery. Children rarely need to stay overnight in the hospital for observation.
Complete recovery takes about 1 to 2 weeks. During the first week, your child should avoid people who are sick. It will be easier for your child to become infected during this time.
Dr. Alan Greene explains what to do after your child's tonsils or adenoids are removed.
After surgery, the number of throat infections is most often lower, but your child may still get some.
Goldstein NA. Evaluation and management of pediatric obstructive sleep apnea. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund LJ, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 184
Wetmore RF. Tonsils and adenoids. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 383.
Last reviewed on: 8/5/2015
Reviewed by: Sumana Jothi MD, specialist in laryngology, Clinical Instructor UCSF Otolaryngology, NCHCS VA, SFVA, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.