Tonsil Removal

This surgery involves removal of the tonsils. The tonsils are lymph tissues located on each side in the back of the throat.

This surgery involves removal of the tonsils. The tonsils are lymph tissues located on each side in the back of the throat.

The tonsils are made of lymph tissues and are located on each side in the back of the throat. The surgical removal of the tonsils is called a tonsillectomy. Frequently the adenoids (also made up of lymph tissues) are removed at the same time as the tonsils. This is called a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, or T and A. People sometimes need these surgeries if:

  • There are multiple infections in the throat, ears and sinuses.
  • The tonsils and adenoids are so big they affect breathing.
  • There is an abscess around or behind the tonsil (peritonsillar abscess).

A tonsillectomy is more often performed in children than adults. This is because tonsil problems usually improve as a child gets older. In addition, tonsils tend to shrink over time.

A tonsillectomy is an outpatient surgery that is usually done by an ear, nose and throat surgeon. Prior to the surgery, tell your child's healthcare provider about any medications your child is taking (including over-the-counter medications and supplements). Ask about specific directions that should be followed before the surgery. These may include:

  • Medications not to take before the surgery, such as blood thinners or aspirin
  • Regular medications to keep on taking on the day of your surgery
  • How many hours to stop eating and drinking before surgery

During your surgery, your child will have anesthesia to keep him or her comfortable and pain free.

  • General anesthesia is the most common type of anesthesia for a tonsillectomy. This is where you are put into a deep sleep and are unable to see, hear or feel anything
  • After surgery, your child may have some nausea and vomiting. Their throat will be very sore for up to five days.
  • Your child will be able to start drinking fluids after he or she is fully awake and less likely to vomit.

After a few hours, your child should be able to go home. Decreased activity and avoiding anyone with an upper respiratory infection may be recommended. Also, make sure your child gets enough fluids while recovering. For a few days it is best to eat soft foods and drink cool, non-acidic beverages. Pain medication may also be needed.

What should I ask a healthcare provider before my child has a tonsillectomy?

  • What is the diagnosis and reason for the surgery?
  • Are there alternatives to surgery, such as using antibiotics for an extended period of time?
  • Is there any other special preparation for the surgery? (If so, get clear instructions on what you need to do.)
  • What kind of sedation or anesthesia will be used? What are the possible side effects?
  • How will my child feel after the surgery?
  • What tests are needed? What is the reason for those tests? Will the test results change the treatment plan?
  • What are the follow-up plans and what symptoms should I report before the next appointment?


Also known as:

Tonsil Removal
Throat Infection
Swollen Tonsils
Swollen Throat
Sore Throat
Remove Tonsils
Removal of Tonsils
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