Tonsillectomy

From Academic Kids

A tonsillectomy is a surgical procedure, during which the tonsils are removed. Sometimes the adenoids are removed at the same time.

Tonsillectomy may be indicated when the patient:

  • Experiences frequent bouts of acute tonsillitis. The number indicating tonsillectomy varies with the severity of the episodes. One case, even severe, is generally not enough for most surgeons to decide tonsillectomy is indicated.
  • Has chronic tonsillitis, consisting of persistent, modererate-to-severe throat pain.
  • Has multiple bouts of peritonsillar abscess.
  • Has sleep apnea or difficulty eating or swallowing as a result of tonsil enlargement.
  • Is suspected of having cancer.

Most infections indicating tonsillectomy are a result of Streptococcus infection ("strep throat"), but some may be due to other bacilli, such as Staphylococcus, or viruses. However, the etiology of the condition is largely irrelevant in determining whether tonsillectomy is indicated. [1] (http://www.ivillage.com/topics/health/0,,232762,00.html)

Most tonsillectomies are performed on children, and there is some debate among pediatricians about the value of this surgery. In some cases, the tonsils grow back after being removed. This has led to a reduction in tonsillectomies performed for adults as well, but recent research suggests that tonsillectomy may be more effective for adults than children. [2] (http://www.clevelandclinicmeded.com/ccjm/aug2003/tonsill.htm)

Tonsillectomy in adults is generally regarded as a particularly painful procedure. Post-operative recovery may take 10-20 days, during which narcotic analgesics are typically prescribed. For the first few days, a diet of soft food is recommended to minimize pain. At some point, typically 7-11 days after the surgery, bleeding may occur when the scab begins sloughing off. Approximately one in twenty patients develops significant bleeding at this time. In this case, a surgeon must repair the bleeding immediately, which presents all the risks associated with emergency surgery (most having to do with the administration of anesthesia on a patient whose stomach is not empty). [3] (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/tonsilstonsillectomy.html)

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