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A tonsillectomy is surgery to remove your tonsils. Tonsils are 2 large lumps of tissue in the back of your throat. Adenoids are small lumps of tissue on the top of your throat. Tonsils and adenoids both fight infection. Sometimes only your tonsils are removed. Your adenoids may be taken out at the same time if they are large or infected.


Before surgery:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • General anesthesia will keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Anesthesia may be given through your IV. You may instead breathe it in through a mask or a tube placed down your throat. The tube may cause you to have a sore throat when you wake up.

During surgery:

You will be attached to monitors to check your heart, breathing, and blood pressure during surgery. A towel will be placed under your shoulders to help lean your head back. This will let your caregiver see your tonsils and adenoids more clearly. He will place small tools inside your mouth to keep it open and to keep your tongue out of the way. Your caregiver will then take your tonsils out. He may only need to remove part of your tonsils. Your caregiver will check your adenoids and remove them if they are large or infected. Lastly, the caregiver will use tools to stop the bleeding in the areas where tissue was removed.

After surgery:

You will be taken to a recovery area where caregivers will watch you until you are alert. Your caregiver may place an ice pack around your throat to ease your pain and reduce swelling. You may be able to go home if you have enough fluids in your body. You may need to stay in the hospital overnight if you have sleep apnea, bad pain, or need fluids.


  • Pain medicine: You may be given medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.
  • Antinausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your stomach and to help prevent vomiting.

Vital signs:

Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.

A pulse oximeter

is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your finger, ear, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine.

Heart monitor:

This is also called an ECG or EKG. Sticky pads placed on your skin record your heart's electrical activity.

Do not clear your throat, cough, or blow your nose:

This may cause your throat to bleed.

Food and drink:

You may drink water, apple juice, or clear soft drinks. You may also be given ice chips to gently suck on. You may have soft, plain foods, such as ice cream and applesauce, if your stomach is not upset.


  • You may bleed more than expected during or soon after surgery. Your risk of bleeding may increase if you smoke. You may get a fever or infection after surgery. You may have swelling in your mouth, throat, or lungs that makes it hard to breathe. You may have heavy bleeding after surgery or after you go home. Heavy bleeding may be life-threatening without prompt treatment.
  • You may have an upset stomach or vomiting after surgery. You may also have pain in your throat, ears, or jaw that lasts up to 2 weeks. It may hurt to swallow. Your tonsils could grow back after surgery. Without surgery, your colds, infections, or sleeping trouble may get worse.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Further information

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

Learn more about Tonsillectomy (Inpatient Care)

Micromedex® Care Notes