Tonsillectomy is the name used to describe surgery to remove the tonsils.
A tonsillectomy may be recommended for patients who have severe, chronic, or recurring tonsillitis or other rare conditions of the tonsils. In order to qualify for the procedure, patients generally must have more than 7 episodes of tonsillitis in a year. In other cases, the procedure might be recommended when the infection isn’t sensitive to antibiotics or as a treatment for cancer in the tissue of the tonsils.
An infection of the tonsils or frequent infections can cause enlargement. Because the tonsils are located in the back of the throat, enlarged tonsils can be dangerous, resulting in difficulty swallowing or breathing. It’s important that patients — or parents — seek treatment as soon as tonsillitis is suspected.
The most common signs and symptoms of tonsillitis include:
Tonsillectomy is a generally safe procedure, but like all surgical procedures, is accompanied by some risk. Risks include potential reaction to anesthesia, swelling in the throat and subsequent breathing problems, bleeding during or after surgery, and infection. Dr. Totten thoroughly reviews risks and benefits for each individual patient before determining the safest, most effective course of action.
Recovery from tonsillectomy is usually accompanied by pain. Every patient is unique and tolerates pain differently. Prescription or over-the-counter pain medications can help alleviate pain during recovery. Patients usually require increased fluids and foods that are soft and easy to swallow — like pudding, applesauce, and broth — during recovery. It takes about two full weeks before regular activity can be resumed.
Patients who experience bright red bleeding, signs of dehydration, fever, or difficulty breathing following the procedure should seek evaluation from the doctor who performed the surgery or an emergency department as soon as possible.
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