Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy in Children
Enlarged Tonsils and Adenoids
The tonsil and adenoids are lymphoid tissue within the throat which aids the body in fighting infection. The tonsils can be seen in the back of the throat, while the adenoids are located near the area where the throat connects to the nasal passages. Tonsils and adenoids can often become enlarged due to viral or bacterial infections.
When the tonsils are infected (tonsillitis), they can become swollen and red and be accompanied by a sore throat, fever, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck. Enlarged adenoids (adenoid hypertrophy) can allow an infection to become lodged in the lymphoid tissue, resulting in recurrent illness.
When tonsils and adenoids are chronically enlarged, other physiological problems can result, such as:
- Sleep disorders/sleep apnea
- Eating problems
- Nasal obstruction/congestion/trouble swallowing
- Problems with teeth or facial development
- Chronic ear infections or sinus infections
- Enlarged tonsils and adenoids may cause no symptoms and infections can often be treated with medications, however, if the enlarged tonsils and adenoids cause breathing problems, recurring infections, or extreme discomfort, your doctor may recommend a tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy.
Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy (T & A)
A tonsillectomy (surgical removal of the tonsils) and adenoidectomy (excision of the adenoids) are often performed at the same time (adenotonsillectomy), especially if the patient has been experiencing recurrent infections in these glands.
Common reasons for having an adenotonsillectomy include:
- Obstructed night breathing/severe snoring: T & A has been highly successful in treating sleep apnea in children
- Frequent throat or sinus infections/recurring or chronic tonsillitis
Adenotonsillectomy is one of the most common surgical procedures performed on children each year. The operation is performed under general anesthesia, usually as an outpatient procedure, and takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. The tonsils and adenoids are usually removed through the mouth and no stitches are required. Patients can typically go home within a few hours after having an adenotonsillectomy.
Your child will have a sore throat for 1-2 weeks after the procedure as the tissue heals. Ear pain, nasal discharge, and some bleeding are common side effects. A temporary change in voice or taste may occur but typically resolves within a few weeks. Pain medication and antibiotics to prevent infection are usually given for a week after the T & A, and healing is usually completed within 10-14 days.