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Tonsil Surgery

Tonsils are small glands in the throat, one on each side. They are there to fight germs when you are a young child. After the age of about three years, the tonsils become less important in fighting germs and usually shrink. Your body can still fight germs without them.

What problems can be caused by the tonsils?

Tonsils are only removed if they are doing more harm than good – if your child is suffering from repeated sore throats which result in absence from school, or if the tonsils are so large that it is affecting their breathing at night. This surgical procedure is called a tonsillectomy.

Mr Fayad will explain whether surgery is the best option, as for many children it is better to wait and see if the problem resolves itself as the child develops. Antibiotics will obviously help deal with the infections as they arise, but repeated doses of antibiotics are not recommended.

What are your treatment options?

Firstly, you will have to arrange for the child to be absent from school for a couple of weeks post procedure. If the child has a sore throat or cold in week preceding the operation it might be best to delay the procedure for a couple of weeks. If your child is very prone to excessive bruising or bleeding, or if these problems run in the family, it is really important that you inform Mr Fayad.

A tonsillectomy is performed under general anaesthetic. Mr Fayad will remove the tonsils through the mouth and stop any bleeding; the whole procedure generally takes just 20 minutes and then your child will move to the recovery area where they will be carefully monitored until they wake up from the anaesthetic. The child will be away from the ward for about an hour in total.

Depending on when the operation takes place, it may be possible to take your child home the same day. Mr Fayad and his team will discharge your child from hospital when they are eating and drinking and feeling well enough.

What is the recovery like?

Initially, your child’s throat will be sore, so give them painkillers regularly, half an hour before meals for the first few days. Do not give your child aspirin as it could make your child bleed. Eating food will help your child’s throat to heal. It will help the pain too. Always give the child a drink with every meal. Chewing gum may also help the pain.

Your child may have sore ears which is normal because the throat and ears have the same nerves. It does not usually mean that your child has an ear infection.

Your child’s throat will look white which is normal while the throat heals. You may also see small threads in your child’s throat – sometimes these are used to help stop the bleeding during the operation, and they will fall out by themselves.

Some children get a throat infection after surgery, usually if they have not been eating properly. If this happens you may notice a fever and a bad smell from your child’s throat. If this happens call your GP or the hospital for advice.

Keep your child off school for 10 to 14 days and ensure that they rest at home away from crowds and smoky places. Keep them away from people with coughs and colds. Your child may also feel tired for the first few days.

What are the possible side effects and complications?

Tonsil surgery is very safe, but every operation has a small risk. The most serious problem is  bleeding and your child may need to return to hospital if this is a problem. About one in every 100 children may need a second operation to stop it.

During the operation, there is a very small chance that a tooth may be chipped or knocked out, especially if it is loose, capped or crowned. Please let us know in advance if your child has any teeth like this.

Some children feel sick after the operation. We may need to give your child some medicine for this, but it usually settles quickly.

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