Michael Jubinville, MPH
Click here to view an animated version of this procedure.
The tonsils are glands in the back of the throat. A tonsillectomy is the surgical removal of the tonsils.
Reasons for Procedure
Tonsillectomy is done when other methods fail for:
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:
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
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.
Description of the Procedure
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 .
How Long Will It Take?
About 20-60 minutes
Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Medicines will ease pain afterwards.
Average Hospital Stay
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.
At the Hospital
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
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
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.