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It may be necessary to remove the tonsils and adenoids when these have become enlarged after multiple infections. This can interfere with breathing and block the Eustachian tubes which connect the middle ear to the back of the nose.

These conditions are largely confined to children as both tonsils and adenoids tend to shrink significantly in size with age. You can read more information on tonsils and adenoids in our section on tonsillitis.

The medical term for the removal of the tonsils is a tonsillectomy, and for the removal of the adenoids is an adenoidectomy.

Surgery to remove the tonsils and adenoids can be performed at the same time (called an adenotonsillectomy) or separately. In either case surgery takes place under a general anaesthetic and generally takes less than an hour to complete. The patient can normally go home on the same day as the surgery.

The surgery to remove the tonsils and the adenoids is completed through the mouth cavity and normally no stitches are required, just a simple short procedure to stop any bleeding once they have been removed.

Post Operative Care

It is important that children who have just had their tonsils removed are encouraged to eat and drink as normally as possible, as this will help the throat to heal. Softer foods are easier to swallow and some pain relief may be given before eating or drinking to ease any pain. Fluid intake is also important for two to three days after surgery – this compensates for any decrease in solid food intake. Teeth should be brushed as normal.

Young patients should be monitored twice a night while they are sleeping for the first two to three nights after the procedure to check if there is any difficulty breathing or any bleeding.

The healing process takes three weeks and we recommend limited activity for the first ten days and not going swimming until after this three week period. It is common for a child to have some pain for up to a week after surgery.

Dr Chang will want to see your child around two weeks after surgery. If in the interim…

  • there is any continual bleeding
  • there is any fresh bleeding from the mouth or nose, or in any vomit
  • your child vomits more than once or twice
  • your child has a temperature of 38C or higher
  • your child is unable to drink

…you should contact Dr Chang or your doctor, or take your child to the emergency department.

Children who have had their adenoids removed must not sniff or blow their nose for a period of 14 days after surgery.