Adenoidectomy and Tonsillectomy

A tonsillectomy is a surgical process in which the tonsils, collections of tissue on either side of the throat that capture bacteria and viruses, are removed when they swell and become infected.

Children are the primary patients for tonsillectomy, and symptoms for tonsillitis include pain when swallowing, a sore throat, fever, swollen glands in the neck, strep throat, difficulty breathing, snoring and sleep apnea. Although tonsils may eventually shrink on their own, it's best to consult a doctor.

The procedure - which can follow a number of methods, including using forceps and scissors, ultrasonic energy, lasers or thermal energy -- takes about 20 minutes during which patients are under general anesthesia. The surgery consists of the doctor removing the tonsils through the patient's mouth, thereby requiring no incisions made in the skin.

In many cases, patients are dismissed from the hospital in five to 10 hours after tonsillectomy, and it usually takes about a week before the patient completely recovers from the pain and discomfort of the procedure.

Not unlike a tonsillectomy, an adenoidectomy is a surgical procedure in which the adenoids, small lymphoid tissue masses in the back of the throat, are removed when they get swollen. And also like a tonsillectomy, children are the principal candidates for an adenoidectomy.

Besides paving the way for frequent throat infections and colds, swollen adenoids can also impair breathing by blocking the nose, can disturb sleep through snoring and/or sleep apnea, and can block the Eustachian tube, which connects the back of the throat to the middle ear and can lead to major ear infections that over a prolonged period can make it difficult for a child to hear.

In many cases, the adenoids are removed during a tonsillectomy.

The adenoidectomy surgery takes between 15 and 30 minutes, which consists of a doctor utilizing special instruments to excise the adenoids through the mouth.

Patients are given a general anesthesia for the procedure.  After awakening from the anesthesia, the patient might complain of a sore throat and pain in the ears and nose, and the doctor may prescribe a short-term pain medication for the first few days of post-surgery recovery. Complete recovery can take up to two weeks.

Patients should drink lots of fluids to prevent dehydration and eat soft foods such as custard and gelatin that are easy to swallow and digest.