A tonsillectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the tonsils, which are small, round glands in the back of the mouth on the sides of the throat. When the tonsils are removed, the adenoids are often removed at the same time. This procedure is known as an adenoidectomy. The adenoids are glands similar to the tonsils but located above the soft palate at the back of the mouth.
The tonsils and adenoids are masses of lymphatic tissue that play a role in the immune system. But in many people (mostly children and young adults), the glands themselves can become enlarged and inflamed. When this happens, taking out the tonsils and adenoids may be better than fighting the illnesses that they can cause when inflamed.
Who is a candidate?
Tonsillitis and adenoiditis used to be the primary reason someone might need to have tonsils and adenoids removed. Now it is recognized that children with chronic snoring and obstructive breathing patterns at night are usually due to tonsil and adenoid enlargement. Their removal can often improve sleep quality as well as daytime concentrations and behaviors.
Good candidates for these procedures include those who:
- Have frequent tonsil infections
- Have snoring, trouble breathing, especially when asleep
- Have trouble swallowing
What to expect
Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy are usually done on an outpatient basis, meaning the patient can have surgery and go home on the same day. However, some very small children, children with other existing medical problems or children who experience surgical complications may be kept in the hospital overnight.
In general, this is what will take place during a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy:
- The patient will be taken to the operating room
- Anesthesia will be given to sedate them for the procedure, which typically lasts 30 to 45 minutes
- Dr. Zachmann will use surgical instruments to remove the tonsils and adenoids through the mouth
- Once the procedure is over, the patient is taken to a recovery room for close monitoring for the next hour or two before being released to go home