Tonsil and Adenoid Removal

This surgery involves the removal of the adenoids and tonsils. The tonsils and adenoids are lymph tissues located in the back of the throat.

This surgery involves the removal of the adenoids and tonsils. The tonsils and adenoids are lymph tissues located in the back of the throat.

The tonsils and adenoids are made of lymph tissues and are part of your immune system. The tonsils are located on each side in the back of the throat. The adenoids are also in the back of the throat, above the tonsils. They are close to the eustachian tubes, which connect the middle ear to the back of the nose and throat.

The surgical removal of the tonsils and adenoids is called a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, or T and A. This surgery is more often performed in children than adults. This is because problems related to these tissues usually improve as a child gets older. The tonsils and adenoids tend to shrink over time.

The reasons to remove the tonsils are similar to the reasons to remove the adenoids. However, there are some differences. Therefore, it is not always necessary to remove both the tonsils and the adenoids. People sometimes need a tonsillectomy if they have:

  • Multiple infections in the throat, ears and sinuses
  • Multiple episodes or strep throat that recur despite the use of antibiotics
  • Enlarged tonsils that affect breathing
  • An abscess around or behind the tonsil (peritonsillar abscess)
  • Abnormal speech, such as muffled speech

People sometimes need an adenoidectomy if they have:

  • Enlarged adenoids that cause prolonged mouth breathing
  • Abnormal speech, such as muffled speech
  • Recurrent ear or sinus infections
  • Persistent middle ear fluid with swelling of the adenoids

A tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy may be needed if there are problems related to the enlargement to both tissues.

A tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy is an outpatient surgery that is usually done by an ear, nose and throat surgeon. Prior to the surgery, tell your child's health care provider about any medications your child is taking (including over-the-counter medications and supplements). Ask about specific directions that should be followed before the surgery. These may include:

  • Medications not to take before the surgery, such as blood thinners or aspirin
  • Regular medications to keep on taking on the day of your surgery
  • How many hours to stop eating and drinking before surgery

During your surgery, your child will have anesthesia to keep him or her comfortable and pain free.

  • General anesthesia is the most common type of anesthesia for this surgery. This puts a person into a deep sleep so they are unable to see, hear or feel anything.
  • After surgery, your child may have some nausea and vomiting. Their throat will be very sore for up to five days.
  • Your child will be able to start drinking fluids after he or she is fully awake and less likely to vomit.

After a few hours, your child should be able to go home. However, if your child is not able to drink enough fluids after surgery, he or she may need to stay in the hospital overnight. Decreased activity and avoiding anyone who has an upper respiratory infection may be recommended. Also, make sure your child gets plenty of fluids while recovering. For a few days, it is best to eat soft foods and drink cool, non-acidic beverages. Pain medication may also be needed.

What should I ask a health care provider before my child has a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy?

  • What is the diagnosis and reason for the surgery? Why are you removing both the tonsils and adenoids?
  • Are there alternatives to surgery, such as using antibiotics for an extended period of time?
  • Is there any other special preparation for the surgery? (If so, get clear instructions on what you need to do.)
  • What kind of sedation or anesthesia will be used? What are the possible side effects?
  • How will my child feel after the surgery?
  • How will I know when my child is ready to go home?
  • What tests are needed? What is the reason for those tests? Will the test results change the treatment plan?
  • What are the follow-up plans and what symptoms should I report before the next appointment?


Also known as:

Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy
Tonsil Removal
Tonsil and Adenoid Removal
Throat Infection
Swollen Tonsils
Swollen Throat
Swollen Adenoids
Sore Throat
Remove Tonsils
Remove Adenoids
Multiple Throat Infections
Infection in Ear
Enlarged Adenoids
Ear Infection
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