Tonsillectomies and adenoidectomies are common and safe procedures. As a matter of fact, tonsillectomy is the second most commonly performed pediatric surgical procedure. It is also necessary at times for this procedure to be performed on adults. A tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy can help prevent frequent sore throats and ear infections. These procedures are not always performed at the same time. Only the procedure that each individual patient requires is recommended.
The tonsils are glands located in the back of the mouth on both sides of your throat. As part of the immune system, tonsils and adenoids help identify the targets for the immune system to fight. The adenoids are located behind the soft palate, the back, muscular section of the roof of your mouth. Behind the uvula, there is a passageway that connects the nose to the mouth. And in this passageway, the Eustachian tubes connect the middle ear to the back of the nose. These tubes prevent large differences in pressure between the inside of the ear and the outside barometric pressure. When the adenoids swell, they become inflamed and can cause blockage of the Eustachian tubes. Blockage can cause the middle ear to become filled with fluid, causing additional pressure and the sensation of fullness. This can even lead to hearing loss and dizziness.
Tonsillectomy is generally performed because of repeat occurrences of tonsillitis. Tonsillitis is an infection in the throat that starts with your tonsils. These types of infections can be due to either bacteria or viruses. When caused by a particular type of bacteria, Streptococcus group A, these infections can lead to rheumatic fever, which causes damage to the muscle of the heart. Tonsillectomy will reduce this risk. Additionally, if your tonsils get large enough to touch each other, this may cause obstruction of breathing, both during sleep and wakefulness. Enlargement of the tonsils is usually associated with enlargement of the adenoids. By obstructing the airway, sleep apnea may result.
Tonsillectomy and/or Adenoidectomy are performed under general anesthesia. Dr. Gwinn can remove the tonsils and/or adenoids in many different ways. Traditional surgery requires the use of a scalpel. Some surgeries can be performed with an instrument that cuts with microwaves.
When surgery is complete, bleeding is stopped and the patient is admitted into recovery. Upon awakening, pain medication is given. A short time later, after the patient has had something to eat, and there is no evidence of post-operative nausea, the patient will be able to go home. Surgery is usually well tolerated although a sore throat is common for the first 5-10 days after surgery.