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Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy

What are the tonsils?

The tonsils are small, round pieces of tissue that are located in the back of the mouth on the side of the throat. Tonsils are thought to help fight infections by producing antibodies. The tonsils can usually be seen in the throat of your child by using a light.

Tonsillitis occurs when the tonsils become inflamed from infection.

What are adenoids?

Adenoids are similar to the tonsils. The adenoids are made up of lymph tissue and are located in the space above the soft roof of the mouth (nasopharynx) and cannot be seen by looking in your child's nose or throat. Adenoids also help to fight infections. Adenoids may cause problems if they become enlarged or infected.

Adenoiditis is when the adenoids become inflamed from infection.

What are the symptoms of tonsillitis?

The symptoms of tonsillitis vary greatly depending on the cause of the infection, and can occur either suddenly or gradually. The following are the most common symptoms of tonsillitis. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

The symptoms of tonsillitis may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

What are the symptoms of adenoiditis, or enlarged adenoids?

The symptoms of adenoiditis vary greatly depending on the cause of the infection, and can occur either suddenly or gradually. The following are the most common symptoms of adenoiditis. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

The symptoms of adenoiditis may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

Treatment for tonsillitis and adenoiditis:

Specific treatment for tonsillitis and adenoiditis will be determined by your child's physician based on:

Your child's physician will decide the best treatment for your child. Treatment depends on the cause of the infection, the severity of the infection, and the number of times the child has developed infections. Your child's physician may order antibiotics to help with the infection.

Some children may be referred to an ear, nose, and throat surgeon to have the tonsils and adenoids removed. This surgery is called a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy (T&A). Often, the tonsils and adenoids are removed at the same time, but, sometimes, only one is removed. Your child's physician will discuss this with you.

What are the reasons to have a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy (T&A)?

The reasons for this surgery are not well defined, and many surgeons differ in their views. The following are some of the more widely accepted reasons for having a T&A:

The following are T&A Guidelines from the American Academy of Otolaryngology:

The sore throats may be associated with the following:

The following are additional reasons that are more controversial regarding the removal of the adenoids and tonsils:

The following are some situations that DO NOT require removal of the tonsils, although each child will be evaluated on an individual basis:

What happens during tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy?

The need for tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy (T&A) surgery will be determined by your child's ear, nose, and throat surgeon and discussed with you. Most T & A surgeries are done on an outpatient basis. This means that your child will have surgery and then go home the same day. Some children may be required to stay overnight, such as, but not limited to, children who:

Before the surgery, you will meet with different members of the healthcare team who are going to be involved with your child's care. These may include:

During the surgery, your child will be anesthetized in the operating room. The surgeon will remove your child's tonsils and adenoids through the mouth. There will be no cut on the skin.

In most cases, after the surgery your child will go to a recovery room where he/she can be monitored closely. After the child is fully awake and doing well, the recovery room nurse will bring the child back to the day surgery area.

At this point, if everything is going well, you and your child will be able to go home. If your child is going to stay the night in the hospital, the child will be brought from the recovery room to his/her room. Usually, the parents are in the room to meet the child.

Bleeding is a complication of this surgery and should be addressed immediately by the surgeon. If the bleeding is severe, the child may return to the operating room.

At home after a T&A:

The following are some of the instructions that may be given to you to help care for your child:

What are the risks of having a T&A?

Any type of surgery poses a risk to a child. About 5 percent of the children begin bleeding from the surgery site about five to eight days after the surgery, and may require additional blood and/or surgery. Some children may have a change in the sound of their speech due to the surgery. The following are some of the other complications that may occur:

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