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Tonsillectomy in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.

What do I need to know about a tonsillectomy?

A tonsillectomy is surgery to remove your child's tonsils. Tonsils are 2 large lumps of tissue in the back of your child's throat. Your child's tonsils may need to be removed if he or she has throat infections often or trouble breathing during sleep.

Adenoid and Tonsil Removal

How do I prepare my child for a tonsillectomy?

  • Your child's surgeon will tell you how to prepare. He or she may tell you not to let your child eat or drink anything after midnight before surgery.
  • Tell your child's surgeon about all the medicines your child currently takes. He or she will tell you if you need to stop any of your child's medicines for surgery, and when to stop. He or she will tell you which medicines to give your child on the day of surgery.
  • Tell your child's healthcare provider about all of your child's allergies. Tell him or her if your child has had an allergic reaction to anesthesia or any other medicines.

What will happen during my child's tonsillectomy?

  • Your child will be given general anesthesia to keep him or her asleep and free from pain during surgery. Your child will be also given medicine to help prevent nausea and vomiting.
  • The surgeon will place tools inside your child's mouth to keep it open. He or she will then cut all or part of your child's tonsils away from the surrounding tissue.
  • The surgeon will stop any bleeding from the areas where the tonsils were removed.

What will happen after my child's tonsillectomy?

  • Your child may need to stay in the hospital if he or she is younger than 3 years. Your child may also need to stay overnight if he or she has breathing or other health problems.
  • Your child will have throat pain that may last up to 2 weeks. The pain may be worse in the morning and spread to his or her ears. It may hurt for your child to swallow. He or she may not feel like eating or drinking. Give your child a lot of liquids to help prevent dehydration.
  • Your child will have white patches in the back of his or her throat. These are scabs that will fall off after about a week.

What are the risks of tonsillectomy?

Your child may bleed more than expected or get an infection. He or she may have swelling in the mouth, throat, or lungs that makes it hard to breathe. Your child may have nausea and vomiting after surgery. Your child may have changes in his or her voice or sense of taste after surgery. Tools used to remove your child's tonsils may cause injury to his or her teeth, voice box, or palate. Tools that use heat or a laser to remove his or her tonsils can cause a burn. Your child's tonsils could grow back after surgery.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© Copyright Merative 2022 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.