What is Tonsillectomy?

Dr Foram Bhuta

Dr Foram Bhuta

BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery), 10 years of experience

October 2, 2021 Lifestyle Diseases 510 Views

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What is the meaning of Tonsillectomy?

Tonsillectomy is a procedure of surgically removing the tonsils. Tonsils are two oval-shaped tissue glands that are located at the back of the throat, one on either side of the throat. Tonsils make white blood cells to help you fight infection, but sometimes the tonsils themselves become infected. Tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils that can affect your tonsils and give you a sore throat. There may be reasons for persistent worsening of tonsillitis in which you need to have a tonsillectomy.

Let us tell you in detail about tonsillectomy in today’s article.

  • What is the purpose of Tonsillectomy?
  • What are the symptoms for Tonsillectomy?
  • What are the diagnostic tests done before Tonsillectomy?
  • What is the preparation for Tonsillectomy?
  • What is the procedure of Tonsillectomy?
  • How to care after Tonsillectomy?
  • What are the complications of Tonsillectomy?
  • What is the cost of Tonsillectomy in India?

What is the purpose of Tonsillectomy?

Tonsillectomy is more commonly done in children rather than adults. However, anyone could have troubles related to the tonsils and may require surgery at any age.

The following could be the different reasons why one may require a tonsillectomy-

  • Chronic throat infection: Adults who need tonsillectomy normally have had cases of several sore throats over the past one to three years (chronic or long-term condition), or have had swollen tonsils caused due to an infection for at least three months.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea: When the upper airway is blocked due to swollen tonsils, it can cause periods when one stops breathing during sleep. This condition is called obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Loud and frequent snoring: This problem can be treated by tonsillectomy.
  • Breathing problems: This can occur due to swollen tonsils.
  • Cancer: This cancer can spread from the head or the neck area to the tonsils.
  • Bad breath: When bad breath is caused by the collection of debris and pus in the tonsil area it does not go away unless treated by tonsillectomy.
  • Bleeding from tonsils

What are the symptoms for Tonsillectomy?

Tonsillectomy may be advised based on the following symptoms:

What are the diagnostic tests done before Tonsillectomy?

Physical exam

  • The doctor will first physically examine the patient. A torch or an instrument having light may be used by the doctor to look into the patient’s throat. The ears and nose are also checked, as they may also be sites of infection.
  • The doctor may check for the presence of a rash called scarlatina, which may be present in case of strep throat (bacterial infection causing a sore throat).
  • The neck is palpated (felt gently) by the doctor to check for any swollen glands known as lymph nodes.
  • The doctor checks the breathing of the patient using a stethoscope.
  • The doctor checks for an enlarged spleen. This could indicate the presence of mononucleosis (viral infection which is spread by saliva), which causes inflammation of the tonsils.

Throat swab

  • The doctor takes a sample of the secretions present at the back of the throat by rubbing a sterile swab over it.
  • The sample is sent to the laboratory to check for the presence of bacteria (known as streptococcal bacteria).
  • If the test is positive, then it is almost certain that the patient has a bacterial infection.
  • If the test is negative, it may indicate the presence of a viral infection.

Complete blood cell count (CBC)

  • This test helps in determining the cause of infection if the throat swab test result is negative.

What is the preparation for Tonsillectomy?

  • The patient should inform the doctor of any medications, supplements, drugs, or herbs that he may be taking.
  • The doctor notes the medical history of the patient, history of any allergic reactions, and the family history of the patient
  • The doctor may ask the patient to stop taking any blood-thinning medications like warfarin and aspirin, and any anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen a few days before the surgery. These drugs may increase the chances of bleeding during and after the surgery.
  • The patient is instructed to not eat or drink anything after midnight the day before the surgery.
  • Have someone around to take you home post-surgery.

What is the procedure of Tonsillectomy?

Tonsillectomy may be either complete (when all of the tonsils are removed) or partial (when a part of the tonsils is removed), depending on the condition of the patient.

The tonsillectomy procedure is done under general anesthesia. The different types of surgeries that can be performed for tonsillectomy include:

  • Cold steel (knife) dissection: In this procedure, a scalpel (blade) is used to remove the tonsils. The bleeding is then stopped by giving sutures (stitches) or with electrocautery (providing extra heat). It is the most standard approach to a tonsillectomy.
  • Electrocautery: This procedure involves the burning of the tonsillar tissue by using extreme heat and stopping the bleeding. The disadvantage of this procedure is that it can also damage the surrounding tissue, causing pain and discomfort.
  • Harmonic scalpel surgery: In this method, ultrasound energy is used to make the blade vibrate very quickly. This helps in cutting the tonsils and stopping the bleeding at the same time. This procedure is effective due to the high precision in the cutting of the damaged tonsils.
  • Microdebrider tonsillectomy: A microdebrider is a rotary device that helps in shaving the tonsil tissue away. When this method is used, a layer of tonsil tissue is left over the muscles of the throat. The recovery time is less and post-operative pain is less in this procedure. This method is used when there is an obstruction in breathing due to enlarged tonsils, however, it is not recommended when tonsil removal is required in a recurring infection.
  • Bipolar radiofrequency ablation: Bipolar means a method of transferring energy to the tissue. An ionized (charged) saline layer is used to damage the correlating molecular bonds so that the tonsils are detached. This method is preferred to remove the tonsils completely or reduce the size of the enlarged tonsils. This procedure has very little post-operative pain and the process of recovery is quite easy.
  • Laser tonsillectomy or laser tonsil ablation: This procedure vaporizes the tonsil’s outer surface, reducing the size of the tonsils and eliminating infection using a carbon dioxide laser. This procedure offers a faster recovery and a painless procedure as compared to traditional surgical methods.

The tonsillectomy procedure takes about 30 to 45 minutes to complete.

How to care after Tonsillectomy?

  • The procedure for tonsillectomy takes about half an hour to forty-five minutes and the patient is usually allowed to go home from the hospital on the same day. It is normal if the patient has a sore throat and mild pain in the ear, neck, and jaw areas after the treatment.
  • Your doctor may advise you to eat bland foods that are easy to swallow like ice cream, soups, and broths.
  • It is important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
  • In case of severe pain in the throat, the doctor may prescribe some pain relief medicines.
  • Bed rest is important for a few days after the surgery.
  • Strenuous physical activities should be avoided for at least two weeks post-surgery.
  • If the patient feels there is a chance of bleeding or infection, then contact your doctor.

What are the complications of Tonsillectomy?

Some of the following complications may occur after a tonsillectomy.

  • Swelling in the tongue or throat region
  • Pain in the throat region for one to two weeks
  • Pain in neck, jaw, or ears
  • Bad breath ( Know more about- What is Bad Breath ? Causes, Symptoms and Treatment)
  • Feeling of something being stuck in the throat
  • Risk of infection
  • Bleeding
  • Reaction to anesthetics
  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Dehydration
  • Problems in breathing

One should contact a doctor immediately if any of the above symptoms are seen.

What is the cost of Tonsillectomy in India?

The total cost of tonsillectomy in India can range from around INR 15,000 to INR 85,000. However, the cost of surgery may vary across different hospitals. There are many big hospitals and specialized doctors in India for tonsillectomy. But the cost varies across different hospitals. If you are coming from abroad, in addition to the expenses of tonsillectomy surgery, there will be a cost of staying in a hotel, cost of living, and cost of local travel. Apart from this, after the surgery, the patient is kept in hospital for 1 day and in the hotel for 7 days for recovery. So, the total cost of tonsillectomy surgery in India comes to be around INR 20,000 to INR 1,11,000.

We hope that we could answer all your questions regarding tonsillectomy through this article.

If you need more information and treatment of tonsillectomy, you can contact an ENT Specialist.

We only aim to provide you with information through this article. We do not recommend any medicine or treatment to anyone. Only a doctor can give you the best advice and correct treatment plan.

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