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What is Pediatric Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy?

Pediatric tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy are surgical procedures performed to remove both tonsils which are the two lumps of tissue located at the back of the oral cavity on either side of the throat, and adenoids which is a mass of tissue at the back of the nasal cavity in children.

Normal Anatomy of the Tonsils and Adenoids

The tonsils and adenoids are part of the immune system and are very similar to lymph nodes. They help trap bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens as they try to enter the body through the mouth and nose. Tonsils and adenoids grow larger until 3-7 years of age and start shrinking in the teenage years until they almost disappear in adults. Tonsils and adenoids may become enlarged or inflamed when fighting pathogens.

Indications for Pediatric Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy

Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy may be indicated if your child has recurrent tonsillitis and adenoiditis which does not respond to conservative treatment and causes symptoms such as difficulty breathing, swallowing problems, severe snoring, and difficulty sleeping.

Preparation for Pediatric Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy

Specific instructions will be provided by your surgeon. In general, you should inform your surgeon about any health conditions, allergies, and medications your child is taking and ensure your child follows the eating and drinking restrictions given prior to the surgery.

Pediatric Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy Procedure

  • The surgery can be performed as an outpatient procedure
  • Your child may be given general anesthesia through a mask or through an IV line.
  • Once the child is asleep, the adenoids and tonsils will be removed through the mouth using special surgical instruments.
  • The procedure will be completed in 30 minutes to an hour.
  • The anesthesia medication will then be discontinued, and your child will be moved to the recovery room.

Recovery after Pediatric Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy

  • Your child may take 1-2 hours to recover from the effects of anesthesia after which your child may be discharged home. 
  • There be temporary jaw discomfort and a sore throat, and your surgeon will provide medications to alleviate symptoms if necessary.
  • Your child may return to school after a week, but strenuous activity and contact with sick individuals should be avoided for about 2 weeks after surgery.

Risks of Pediatric Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy

Pediatric tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy are very safe procedures which can greatly improve the quality of life of your child; however, as with any other surgery, there is a minimal risk of complications which include infection, bleeding, nausea, vomiting, and airway obstruction. You should inform you, surgeon, immediately if your child has increasing fever, pain, nausea, or difficulty with intake of foods and fluid.