A tonsillectomy is the surgical procedure to remove infected tonsils.Â Tonsils are organs at the back of the throat which, as part of the immune system, help fight viral and bacterial infections.Â Healthcare professionals do not routinely remove tonsils, but a tonsillectomy is carried out, mainly on children, when there is frequently occurring infection, or the tonsils become enlarged, causing sleep apnea (obstruction of the airways).Â
Tonsillectomy: The Operation
A tonsillectomy can be performed to remove the tonsil entirely or partially.Â While the scalpel is the preferred instrument to surgically remove the tonsils, there are other tonsillectomy procedures that may be used.Â These include:Â
- Electrocautery- the burning of tonsil tissue reducing blood loss.Â However this may also burn surrounding tissue leading to discomfort postoperatively.
- Harmonic scalpel tonsillectomy, which uses ultrasonic energy to cut the tissue and assist in blood coagulation.
- Radiofrequency ablation which reduces enlarged tonsils using the insertion of probes in the tonsil through which radio frequency energy is transferred.Â This type of tonsillectomy is performed under local anesthesia with minimal post-operative discomfort.
- Laser tonsil ablation (LTA) which is a tonsillectomy procedure that uses a hand-held CO2 or KTP laser which vaporizes tonsil tissue.Â It is the preferred procedure for recurrent infections and airway obstruction due to enlarged tonsils.
- Microdebrider tonsillectomy which is a procedure that uses a powered rotary device to partially shave the tonsils, eliminating the obstructive portion of the tonsil.
- Coblation tonsillectomy which uses a bipolar probe to create a radio frequency electrical current, which destroys surrounding tissue. The tonsil is dissected and cauterized simultaneously.Â
Tonsillectomy: Post-operative Healthcare
Health care professionals advise that the recovery period following a tonsillectomy may be10-20 days.Â Healthcare recommendations involve prescribed painkillers and a diet of soft food, along with regular fluid intake to minimize pain and the risk of bleeding.Â Bleeding may occur up to two weeks after the tonsillectomy but, generally, the bleeding will stop naturally, or by gargling cold water.
To compare the cost of a tonsillectomy by country, please consult our medical tourism pricing guide.