Common Surgeries - Tonsillectomy

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What is a tonsillectomy?
A tonsillectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the tonsils.

When is a tonsillectomy a consideration?
Your doctor may have sent you to us to be evaluated for a tonsillectomy. It is one of the most frequently performed throat operations and has been proven to be a safe, effective surgical method to resolve a number of problems. While this procedure is not as common as it was decades ago, there are a still a number of reasons why children need to have their tonsils removed.

What are some of the reasons a tonsillectomy is performed?

  1. Tonsil hypertrophy causing upper airway obstruction, severe dysphagia (trouble swallowing), sleep disorders or cardiopulmonary complications.
  2. Recurrent bouts of tonsillitis. Each individual is different and it is not possible to give an exact number of infections needed before a tonsillectomy should be considered. General guidelines based on past research have shown that individuals with 6-7 infections in one year or 2-3 infections per year for a few years would probably benefit from a tonsillectomy.
  3. Persistent foul taste or bad breath due to chronic tonsillitis not responsive to medical therapy.
  4. One sided enlargement of a tonsil suspicious for a cancer.
  5. Peritonsillar abscess (collection of pus around the tonsil) that does not respond to medical treatment
  6. Tonsil hypertrophy causing dental malocclusion or adversely affecting orofacial growth documented by an orthodontist.

What is involved with removing the tonsils?
Every patient who is to undergo a tonsillectomy is first screened to make sure there is no increased risk for having excessive bleeding during or after surgery. This is done with a simple questionnaire and possibly some routine blood tests. The surgery is performed through the mouth with the patient under general anesthesia. Nowadays there are a number of ways to remove the tonsils. Be sure to ask your surgeon which technique is best for you or your child.

The procedure lasts about 30 minutes and can usually be performed as an outpatient after a number of hours in the recovery room. Any child with certain other medical problems or anyone under the age of 3 will have to stay in the hospital overnight for observation. Your child will be sent home with prescriptions for an antibiotic as well as for pain medication. Your child will be given specific instructions regarding diet, activity and medications. For most children, plan on making a post operative visit to the office 3-4 weeks after surgery.


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Education Links

» ENT Glossary
» ENT Problems
» Speech & Hearing
» Common Surgeries
» Post-Op Instructions


Clinic Locations

Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic
University Hospital Clinics Building
1005 Harborside Drive
Galveston, Texas

Ear, Nose & Throat Consultants
Brittany Plaza
1600 West League City Parkway, Suite D
League City, Texas

Family HealthCare Center
Mainland Crossing
9300 Emmett F. Lowry Expressway
Texas City, Texas

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