Tonsillectomy

Tonsillectomy is a surgical procedure in which the tonsils are removed from the back of the throat. The procedure is performed in response to cases of repeated occurrence of acute tonsillitis, tonsillar stones, obstructive sleep apnea or snoring, peritonsillar abscess, or to remove or rule out cancer. Sometimes the adenoids are removed at the same time, a procedure called adenoidectomy. This is usually done in cases of nasal obstruction. Although tonsillectomy is being performed less frequently than in the 1950s, it remains one of the most common surgical procedures in children in the United States.

A sore throat will persist for around two weeks after the operation. Most patients do not feel like swallowing anything during the first few days after surgery. Patients should try to get as much fluid down as possible, as it will help speed recovery. Very cold drinks will help bring down swelling. Ice cream, frozen yogurt and other dairy products are not recommended because they leave a film in the mouth that is difficult to swallow. Sorbet and popsicles, on the other hand, are recommended.

Pain following the procedure is significant and can last up to 2-3 weeks. Narcotic analgesics are typically prescribed. Patients are encouraged to maintain diet of liquid and very soft foods for several days following surgery. Rough textured, acidic or spicy foods may be irritating and should be avoided. Proper hydration is very important during this time, since dehydration can increase throat pain, leading to a vicious circle of poor fluid intake.

Bleeding can occur when scabs begin sloughing off from the surgical sites, most commonly 7–10 days after the surgery (but occasionally as long as two weeks after. The overall risk of bleeding is a bit lower in children than in adults, which is approximately 3%. The bleeding might naturally stop quickly or mild intervention (e.g., gargling cold water) may be needed. Rarely, intervention in the operating room may be necessary.

See tonsillectomy post op instructions form under Patient Forms above for more information.