Why do children have their tonsils and adenoids removed?

The tonsils and adenoids are small pieces of tissue in the throat and back of the nose, and are a small part of the body’s  immune system.  Removal of the tonsils and adenoids has not been shown to have any significant long term risks, and does not increase the severity or frequency of future infections.

The most frequent reasons for removal are:

  • Frequent infections (tonsillitis)
  • Breathing difficulties at night (sleep apnea) due to oversized tonsils and adenoids
  • Having persistently infected tonsils (a “strep carrier”)
  • Tonsil infection with a pus pocket failing to respond to medicine (peritonsillar abscess)
  • Difficulty swallowing solids/failure to gain weight due to enlarged tonsils
  • Asymmetric progressive enlargement of a tonsil or adenoid suspicious for a tumor

How are tonsils and adenoids removed?

Removal of the tonsils and adenoids (adenotonsillectomy) is done in the operating room, and takes approximately 30 minutes.  It is done through the mouth using cautery (electricity converted to heat) to remove the tissue while minimizing bleeding. Children 2 years and under are observed overnight, while older children may go home the same day.

Children often experience a sore throat for 7-10 days after the procedure, and have a low risk of postoperative bleeding or infection during this period as well.  Activity and travel is restricted for two weeks after surgery to facilitate healing.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 404-255-2033.