Tonsillectomy with or without adenoidectomy is the surgical removal of tonsils and/or adenoids. It is one of the most frequently performed throat operations. It has proven to be a safe and effective surgical method for resolving breathing obstruction, recurring throat infections and in the case of the adenoids, managing recurrent childhood ear disease. Pain following surgery is usually reasonably controlled with medication. It is similar to the pain that is experienced with throat infections, but can also be felt in the ears.
There are also some risks associated with removal of tonsils and/or adenoids. Postoperative bleeding occurs in about 2% of cases and can happen at any time during the first 2 weeks following the surgery. Treatment of bleeding is typically an outpatient procedure, but sometimes it may require a visit to the operating room under general anesthesia to get it under control. In rare cases, a blood transfusion may be recommended. Because of the risk of bleeding, children who have had a tonsillectomy should only be cared for by adults who clearly understand how to get the child to an emergency room in case of bleeding. For the 2 weeks after their surgery travel is strongly discouraged.
Because swallowing can be painful after surgery, there is a tendency for poor oral intake of fluids. If swallowing pain cannot be controlled with the pain medications prescribed, the patient may need to be admitted to the hospital for IV fluid replacement. Very rarely, disturbances in the sense of taste or loss of taste in one side of the tongue may occur. Although anesthetic complications are known to exist, they are quite uncommon.