• Tonsillectomy is surgery to remove the tonsils. It is usually performed to treat repeated episodes of tonsillitis, and sometimes for sleep apnoea.
  • Tonsillectomy usually takes 15–30 minutes and is carried out under general anaesthetic. The operation is performed through the open mouth. The tonsils are cut away and bleeding is stopped by tying off or heating the ends of the blood vessels.
  • Patients usually stay in hospital overnight but may be allowed home on the same day if they feel well enough and live close to the hospital. It is important that you are not alone at home, and that you have access to a telephone in case bleeding occurs.
Tonsillectomy
  • You will feel pain after the operation, though young children seem to suffer less than older children and adults, who may need to take strong painkillers for several days. Pain is often felt in the ears, but this does not mean that the operation has caused an ear infection.
  • You should plan for 2 weeks off school or work after the operation. You must try to eat and drink normally during this period even though it is uncomfortable, as chewing prevents the build-up of large scabs in the throat that can harbour infection.
  • Bleeding occurs in about 2% of patients, most of whom are still in hospital. If bleeding starts later, you should return to hospital immediately. Rarely, another operation under anaesthesia will be needed to stop the bleeding.

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