Why is a tonsil removal (tonsillectomy) needed?
Acute tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils that can make your tonsils swell and cause sore throat, fever, troubles with swallowing, and also enlarge the glands around your neck. It is often caused by bacteria (streptococcus species). Frequent episodes of tonsillitis (recurrent tonsillitis) might be a good reason for you to have a tonsillectomy.
A chronic tonsillitis may lead to a permanent sore throat, bad breath, and constantly enlarged lymph nodes on the neck. It can be the reason for patchy or diffuse hair loss, joint complaints, skin rashes of uncertain origin, fatigability, permanent rise in body temperature or fever, and chronic urogenital inflammations. In these cases, surgery is necessary.
The operation is also indicated in case of enlarged tonsils. Enlarged palatine tonsils may significantly narrow the throat, which may cause swallowing -, and/or respiratory difficulties, and may contribute to snoring and obstructive sleep apnoe syndrome (OSAS).
How does the procedure work?
Tonsillectomy is the surgical removal of the tonsils. The surgical procedure lasts about 40 minutes, and is performed under general anesthesia and usually in antibiotic prophylaxis.
What are the benefits and risks of the surgery?
Removal of the tonsils may reduce the frequency and severity of throat infections. It may also prevent the development of potentially serious kidney-, heart-, joint or brain conditions following streptococcal pharyngitis or tonsillitis (rheumatic fever). In case of enlarged palatine tonsils, tonsillectomy will improve swallowing- and/or respiratory difficulties.
In addition, you may reduce antibiotic intake related to infections due to recurrent tonsillitis.
As with any surgery, there are certain risks associated with tonsil removal, including various infections and bleeding. The risk of bleeding is higher on day 5 to 7 after surgery, when scabs fall off in small pieces from the tonsillar bed.
There are certain risks associated with general anesthesia, for which we will provide a separate information sheet and informed consent form. The tests that you will undergo before your surgery will ensure that these risks are reduced to the minimum.
It is important to call your surgeon immediately in case of blood spitting or – vomiting, permanent nasal bleeding, fever or a serious headache.
How should I prepare for the surgery?
- Prepare a list of all of your symptoms and other medical conditions, past illnesses and allergies, even if they seem unrelated to your nose or sinuses. For this reason, you will receive a detailed questionnaire to complete, followed by a physical examination.
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. Your ENT surgeon will provide you with all the necessary information so that you can prepare yourself for the diagnostic tests.
- List all your medications and drugs, including vitamins and supplements
- Before the surgery, you will get a patient information sheet and an informed consent form with the necessary pre- and postoperative information to read and sign.
What shall I do after tonsil removal?
It takes about 14 days to recover from the surgery.
You can expect to have moderate to intense pain (sore throat, ear pain) for 7-10 days. This can be well controlled with oral pain killers.
You should only take medications approved at our clinic, and check with your ENT surgeon about any post-operative care you will need to perform to recover properly.
It is normal if you feel slowed down and deconcentrated for about a day after the surgery due to general anesthesia.
If there is no bleeding, you will be discharged on the first postoperative day. You will usually be advised to rest for around two weeks after surgery. Your surgeon will be able to give you more detailed information and advice.
For 2 weeks after tonsil removal you will be advised to avoid strenuous physical activities that may lead to bleeding of the operated area (blood spitting or –vomiting, nasal bleeding). In case of bleeding it is important to call your surgeon immediately, and go to the emergency.
It is important to note that you will have to drink plenty of fluids and keep a soft diet (eat only pulpy food) during the recovery period.
We recommend you do not travel far away from a medical facility or by air for two weeks following surgery.
Why is post-operative check-up important after the operation?
The first control examination is due after a week to check how well you recover, if there is any sign of infection or bleeding. Depending on your recovery, a second control might as well be needed.