Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy Tests & Diagnostics in Children

What are the reasons to have a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy?

The reasons for this surgery are not well defined, and physicians may differ in their views. The following are some of the more widely accepted reasons for having a T&A:

  • sleep apnea, or periods at night when your child stops breathing
  • trouble swallowing
  • tumor in the throat or nasal passage
  • bleeding from the tonsils that cannot be stopped
  • significant blockage of the nasal passage and uncomfortable breathing

The following are T&A Guidelines from the American Academy of Otolaryngology:

  • seven sore throats in one year
  • five sore throats in each of two years
  • three sore throats in each of three years

The sore throats may be associated with the following:

  • fever above 101°F (Fahrenheit)
  • discharge on the tonsils
  • positive strep throat culture

Here are some additional reasons for removing the adenoids and tonsils that are more controversial:

  • bad snoring
  • recurrent infections or abscesses in the throat
  • recurrent ear infections
  • hearing loss
  • chronic sinusitis, or infection in the sinuses
  • constant mouth breathing
  • frequent colds
  • cough
  • bad breath

What happens during tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy?

Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy (T&A) surgery is a common major surgery performed on children in the United States. About 400,000 surgeries are performed each year. The need for a T&A will be determined by your child's ear, nose, and throat surgeon and discussed with you. Most T&A surgeries are done on an outpatient basis. This means that your child will have surgery and then go home the same day.

During the surgery, your child will be anesthetized in the operating room. The surgeon will remove your child's tonsils and adenoids through the mouth. There will be no cut on the skin.

In most cases, after the surgery your child will go to a recovery room where he/she can be monitored closely. After your child is fully awake and doing well, the recovery room nurse will bring your child back to the day surgery area.

At this point, if everything is going well, you and your child will be able to go home. If your child is going to stay the night in the hospital, your child will be brought from the recovery room to his/her room. Typically you would already be in the room to meet your child.

Bleeding is a complication of this surgery and should be addressed immediately by the surgeon. If the bleeding is severe, your child may return to the operating room.