Tonsillectomy (Child)

This page will provide you with information about a tonsillectomy. For further details, you should speak to your consultant.

What is a tonsillectomy?

The tonsils, which are lymphoid tissues, protect us from germs that are breathed in and/or swallowed. A tonsillectomy is a surgical procedure whereby the tonsils are removed. This operation is most commonly offered to children whose tonsils have become infected (see figure 1), resulting in fever, pain, nausea, and trouble when swallowing.

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What are the alternatives to surgery?

Surgery is the only reliable way to guarantee that the tonsillitis will not return. Children can either take a long course of antibiotics to help prevent frequent infections, or tonsillitis may stop naturally.

What does the procedure entail?

The procedure will be performed through your child’s mouth. The doctor will remove the tonsil either by peeling or cutting it away from the muscle beneath it, using heat to remove it and cauterise the area, or by using radio-frequency energy to dissolve it. Any surplus bleeding will be stopped by the surgeon. The procedure will take around half an hour and is performed under a general anaesthetic.

What are the complications?

General complications associated with this type of surgery include pain, bleeding, or infection of the wound. More specific complications include lingual tonsillitis, or small parts of the tonsil may be left behind after the operation.

How quickly will my child recover?

Most children are sent home the same day as their operation, though it is possible that they may need to stay overnight. Pain following the procedure can last for up to a fortnight with it tending to be more intense in the mornings. It will take around a fortnight for your child’s throat to heal properly. During this time, they should be at home and away from groups of people in order to prevent throat infections.


Tonsillitis can cause many complications when left untreated. Surgery is the only way to guarantee that it will not return.

References: EIDO Healthcare Limited – The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare.

The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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