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The tonsils are glands in the back of the throat. A tonsillectomy is the surgical removal of the tonsils.
Tonsillectomy is done when other methods fail for:
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Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems such as:
Your chances of problems are higher for:
You may have:
Leading up to your procedure:
General anesthesia is the most common. You will be asleep . If needed, the surgery can also be done with sedation and local anesthesia.
Each tonsil will be grasped with a special tool. The tonsils will be cut away from the back of the throat and taken out. This may be done with a scalpel or hot knife. An electrical current, or clamps and ties will be used to stop bleeding .
About 20-60 minutes
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Medicines will ease pain afterwards.
You may be able to leave after the procedure. Some people may need to stay in the hospital for up to 2 days. If you have problems, you may need to stay longer.
The healthcare staff will watch:
After you are fully awake, alert, and stable, you may be able to leave.
To help you heal faster:
Call your doctor if any of these occur:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
American College of Surgeons
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Tonsillectomy. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114262/Tonsillectomy . Updated June 21, 2018. Accessed August 24 ,2018.
Tonsillectomy and adenoids postop. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: https://www.entnet.org//content/tonsillectomy-and-adenoids-postop. Accessed August 24, 2018.
Tonsils and tonsillectomies. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/tonsil.html. Updated May 2013. Accessed August 24, 2018.
4/16/2009 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114262/Tonsillectomy : Burton MJ, Glasziou PP. Tonsillectomy or adeno-tonsillectomy versus non-surgical treatment for chronic/recurrent acute tonsillitis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;(1):CD001802.
Last reviewed May 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 8/24/2018