When to do a tonsillectomy?

Tonsillectomy is the removal of tonsils from repeated confirmed infections. Removing the the tonsils was common practice 20 years ago, however surgery is not as popular as most children grown out of recurrent throat infections. Surgery can be done from about the age of 4, in repeated confirmed cases and the operation is performed under general anaesthesia.

The need for tonsillectomy

Surgery is still required in some specific indications:

Recurrent tonsillitis: more than 3 to 4 confirmed throat infections a year where time off scholl or work has been needed

Complications of recurrent bacterial tonsillitis
  • Cardiac complications: acute rheumatic fever (ARF): The complication occurs several weeks after a sore throat caused by bacteria streptococcus. It causes joint damage, heart and the membranes surrounding organs such as the pleura, located around the lungs.
  • The diagnosis is confirmed by a blood test, a local levy, radiography, ultrasound.

The ARF is a true emergency requiring rapid response and a treatment including antibiotics, steroids and strict rest.

A preventive treatment usually includes a regular injection of penicillin is then prescribed
  • Renal complications

Tonsillectomy for grossly enlarged tonsils

  • When the tonsils are enlarged breathing and swallowing can be impinged. Sleep apnoea can also occur causing daytime tiredness and lethargy.
  • Quinsy is a tonsil abscess: which can be life threatening if left untreated. Hospitalisation for intravenous antibiotic is essential to aid recovery and if recurrent episodes occur the tonsillectomy is required.

Postoperative pain

Pain is inevitable, but only lasts for a few days following surgery
  • Paracetamol and anti-inflamatories reduces pain.
  • Pushing normal diet and plenty of fluids is essential to the healing process.


  • Monitor any fever or bleeding
  • Monitor the child's temperature and the absence of bleeding.
  • Consult your doctor in case of fever, bleeding ...
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