What is a tonsillectomy?

The tonsils are soft tissue located at the back of your throat and are part of the body’s immune system. If a patient suffers repeated tonsillitis infection in this area, they can undergo a tonsillectomy, a surgical procedure to remove the tonsils. Tonsillectomy can also be undertaken as a surgical treatment for snoring.

What causes tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis can be caused by a common virus or a bacterial infection and is often caught following a cold or flu. It can also be caused by streptococcal bacteria affecting your throat.

What are the symptoms?

The main symptoms of tonsillitis are

  • A sore throat
  • Red, swollen tonsils
  • White or yellow spots or patches on the tonsils
  • Pain or difficulty when swallowing
  • Fever
How is tonsillitis diagnosed?

A doctor will undergo an assessment by using a light to look at the back of the throat. They will also gently feel the neck to see assess for any swollen lymph nodes. Antibiotics can help treat the infection within around 10 days, but if a patient experience frequent bouts of tonsillitis, they may need to have them removed.

What happens during a tonsillectomy?

A tonsillectomy is performed as a daycase and takes roughly 30 minutes, and is performed under general anaesthetic

There are several methods for performing a tonsillectomy procedure:

Cold Steel Dissection (This is the most common method of tonsil removal is cold steel dissection, where a scalpel blade is used to surgically remove the tonsils).

Cauterisation (This method uses a safe electrical current needle device to seal the blood vessels as it removes the tonsils).

Ultrasonic vibrations (Ultrasonic energy is used to cut through the soft tissue and seals the blood vessels.)

How long is the recovery?

Patients will be able to go home on the same day as their procedure. As they will have undergone a general anaesthetic, they will need to be driven home and have someone with them for the following 24 hours. Patients are advised to rest for at least a week and undertake only light activities for two weeks.

Will I need repeat treatment in future?

Once the tonsils are removed, the chance of recurrent infections significantly decreases. Patients may still suffer from coughs or sore throats in the future.