Tonsils and adenoids
The throat or “pharynx” begins behind the nose and ends where the esophagus and larynx divert air and food from each other. Tonsillar tissue in the throat is part of the immune system. There are several sets of tonsils in the pharynx, including the pharyngeal tonsils or adenoids, the palatine tonsils (often just referred to as the “tonsils”), and the lingual tonsils. When tonsillar tissue enlarges, it can cause obstruction. Adenoid tissue can block the back of the nose or can act as a source of ear infections or sinus infections. Palatine tonsillar tissue can enlarge and block the back of the mouth. When adenoids or tonsils become enlarged, this is referred to as “hypertrophy.” Tonsillar and/or adenoid hypertrophy can be addressed surgically if they are causing a blockage. Enlarged tonsils and adenoids can contribute to snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Dr. Magill removes tonsils and adenoids in adults when they are creating a blockage, or when there is concern for repetitive or persistent infection. In some cases, the tonsils or adenoids may need to be biopsied or removed if there is a concern for cancer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will I have a problem with my immune system if my tonsils or adenoids are removed?
Tonsillectomy is one of the oldest surgeries known to the medical profession. Multiple studies have not shown a detriment to the immune system of the tonsils or adenoids are removed. Dr. Magill will consult with you about tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy if it is needed for you or your child.
How are tonsils removed? What is the recovery time for this surgery?
Tonsils are removed through the mouth while a patient is under a brief general anesthetic and a breathing tube in in the mouth during the surgery. There are many tools that can be used to remove the actual tonsil, including a laser, coblator, plasma knife, specialized scalpel, and bovie. What matters is what works best for the surgeon and provides the best outcomes. Recovery after tonsillectomy is usually 7 to 10 days. If you are travelling from out of town, it is recommended you stay in town in proximity to your surgeon for two weeks before travelling home. Dr. Magill will determine if you would benefit from a tonsillectomy and answer all of your questions during a consultation.
How are adenoids removed? What is the recovery time from this surgery?
Adenoids are located behind the nasal cavity and are removed through the mouth using specialized instruments. If adenoids are removed, the recovery from this surgery is usually one to two days. Children typically are fatigued after the surgery, and a general anesthetic with a breathing tube is used during the adenoidectomy. Pain medications are typically not needed, but ibuprofen or Tylenol can be given. Children can resume normal activities in a few days after surgery. A special diet is not needed if adenoids are removed without any tonsil surgery.
What are the risks of tonsil and adenoid surgery?
Adenoid surgery is very low risk. If adenoids are removed in a child that is 2 yrs old or younger, they may have some regrowth of adenoid tissue and need this addressed again when they are older. Tonsil surgery can cause dehydration if a sore throat after surgery prevents good oral liquid intake. There is also a small chance that there will be a healing problem where the tonsils used to be. A healing problems after tonsillectomy can show up as bleeding from the mouth and will require a trip to the hospital and possibly back to the operating room. Dr. Magill will review the risks, benefits, and alternatives of tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy with you before any procedure is performed.
How do I know if I have tonsil cancer?
Cancer of the tonsil can show up as an enlarged, painful, and sometime bleeding area of the tonsil and should be evaluated. Cancer of the tonsil involves one tonsil and not the other, making it different than “tonsillitis” which can make both tonsils large and painful. A primary care provider can help screen you for concerns relating to oral infection versus cancer. Dr. Magill is expertly trained in the diagnosis and treatment of head and neck cancer.