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Do You Need a Tonsillectomy or Adenoidectomy

Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy?


Updated February 25, 2011

tonsillectomy image, tonsillectomy surgery,

Tonsillectomy Image

Photo © ADAM

When Is a Tonsillectomy Necessary?

In the past, a tonsillectomy was performed almost routinely, sometimes in a doctor’s office. This resulted in a concern in the medical community that too many tonsillectomies were being performed unnecessarily. Today there are guidelines for performing a tonsillectomy that should be met before surgery is performed. Even with the current guidelines, a tonsillectomy is a very common procedure with over 700,000 performed annually in the United States.

While tonsillitis does make your throat hurt, a sore throat isn’t necessarily tonsillitis. With tonsillitis at least one of the palantine tonsils are swollen and infected. The adenoids, a different set of tonsils, can also become infected and painful and may be removed with the palantine tonsils if necessary.

Reasons for Tonsillectomy

  • Chronic bleeding- from one or both tonsils

  • Chronic tonsillitis-Defined as 5 or more bouts of tonsillitis in the course of a year OR 3 episodes per year for two years in a row OR tonsillitis does not respond to antibiotic therapy.

  • Cryptic Tonsils or Tonsilliths-Tonsils that collect particles, which harden and become stone like lumps

  • Abscess of the tonsil-A collection of pus within the tonsil

  • Chronic Bad Breath-Caused by the infection in the tonsils

  • Kissing Tonsils-Tonsils so enlarged that they touch in the middle of the mouth/throat

  • Suspicion of Cancer

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea–Large tonsils can narrow the airway, making sleep apnea worse.

Reasons for an Adenoidectomy

  • Repeated infection of the adenoids

  • Adenoid infections that cause ear infections or hearing problems

  • Adenoid infections that do not respond to antibiotics


Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy Reference Summary. National Institutes of Health http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/tutorials/tonsillectomyadenoidectomy/htm/index.htm

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