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Tonsillectomy (Adult)

This page will provide you with information about a tonsillectomy. For further details, you should speak to your consultant.

What is a tonsillectomy?

When you have your tonsils removed, the procedure is known as a tonsillectomy. The tonsils are lymphoid tissues, located in your neck, that assist in fighting infection caused by germs that are inhaled or swallowed. Sometimes tonsils can become infected (see figure 1). When this happens, symptoms can occur such as swelling, pain, problems with swallowing and you might feel feverish and ill.

Figure 1
The tonsils
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Why choose surgery?

A tonsillectomy is the most effective way of preventing recurring tonsillitis. Children experiencing frequent bouts of this condition may be prescribed a course of antibiotics to help break the cycle. However, in adults, medication is unlikely to have the same effect – particularly if following a condition like glandular fever.

What happens during the operation?

A general anaesthetic will be administered for a tonsillectomy and the procedure can be expected to last around half an hour. The operation will be performed through your mouth and your tonsils will be removed from the muscle beneath using one of several techniques. The surgeon might choose to cut or peel the tonsils away or use heat or radio-frequency energy to dissolve them.

Risks and complications

Any risks or complications will be discussed in advance of your treatment with your expert consultant.

What is the healing process like?

Most patients are able to return home the following day after a tonsillectomy. However, it can take up to two weeks for any pain or discomfort to fade so it is important to take a fortnight off work or school in order to heal. It is also important to avoid groups of people during this time. Although regular exercise is recommended to help get back to normal levels of fitness, do ask your consultant or a relevant healthcare professional for advice on your specific situation.

Summary

Recurring tonsillitis can lead to complications – a tonsillectomy is a reliable way to prevent the condition returning.

 

References: EIDO Healthcare Limited - The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare.

The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

 

 

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