Vincent Cumberworth BSc FRCS Consultant Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeon
Clementine Churchill Hospital Sudbury Hill Harrow Middlesex HA1 3RX
Private Secretary: Tel: 020 8872 3866 Fax: 0208872 3861

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Tonsil Surgery in Children

Please see also the information listed regarding tonsil or adenoid surgery. These are just some small further specific notes relating to children.

1. Before the operation

(a) If there should be any further infection or inflammation the week preceding surgery, it may be necessary for the operation to be postponed, possibly for a few weeks. The risks discussed in the above section, principally involving post-operative infection and bleeding, are certainly higher in the event of surgery in the presence of infection and if it is possible to avoid this by waiting, to reduce the risks a little it is often better to do this.

(b) Do discuss with the relevant doctors, and certainly your operating doctor and anaesthetist, if there was any history of bleeding or easy bruising or any familial clotting problems.

2. Hospital Stay and after discharge

It may be possible for the tonsil surgery to be performed as a day case, in which case it is possible to go home without staying in hospital overnight after the operation. This does depend somewhat on factors including eating and drinking after the operation and it is always advisable to be prepared for an overnight stay.

(a) After the operation the risk relating to primary or secondary bleeding are discussed in the above sections; it has been stated that “about 2 children out of every 100 who have their tonsils removed will need to be taken back into hospital because of bleeding and that 1 of these 2 may require a second operation.

(b) Please inform specialist if you are aware that there any loose teeth, as it is possible for these to be dislodged during the operation.

(c) After tonsil surgery it is possible for a varied amount of discomfort to be experienced between the 1st and 10th post-operative day. It is advisable for painkillers to be taken around half an hour prior to eating and Aspirin should not be used for children under the age of 16.

(d) Specific type of food which is eaten is not important, what is important is that the child does eat and drink as this will not only encourage healing and general wellbeing but also exercise the muscles on the throat and reduce risk of infection. In a similar way, chewing gum post-operatively can be of assistance.

(e) It is possible for referred pain to occur, such that the disturbed nerve endings in the tonsillar fossae, where the tonsils have been removed, may give rise to discomfort in the ears. Some children seem to manifest most of their post-operative discomfort as earache.

(f) It is normal for the throat to appear white and grey while it is recovering but in the event of temperature or a particular unpleasant smell developing then antibiotics may be needed and it would be advisable for medical review.

(g) A child will need to abstain from school for a period of around 2 weeks and it is best to avoid potential contact with infected people regarding coughs and colds.

(h) If there is any bleeding from your child’s throat it is important to see a doctor, either by calling GP, the ward or attending the nearest hospital Casualty Department.