What is a tonsillectomy?
A tonsillectomy is the surgical removal of the tonsils, the two pads located at either side of the back of the throat. The tonsils serve as part of the immune system, the first line of defense for pathogens entering the mouth or nose. Because of their function, they may become infected or inflamed and, in some cases, may require surgical removal.
When is a Tonsillectomy Needed?
Tonsillectomies are more commonly performed on children than adults. A tonsillectomy may be necessary when an individual has recurring episodes of tonsillitis or an ongoing infection that has not healed with other treatments.
Surgery may also be required if enlarged tonsils block airways, leading to sleep apnea, swallowing problems, or difficulty eating. Rarely, a tonsillectomy may be performed to treat a malignancy of the tonsils.
What Our Patients Have to Say
“The staff and Dr. Setzen were extremely patient and kind to my son. Dr. Setzen explained all findings thoroughly and explained necessary procedures that would be needed to address my son’s condition. He also suggested having a second opinion if we felt it was warranted which made me feel he was very trustworthy.” -Mary S.
How Is A Tonsillectomy Performed?
Traditionally, tonsillectomies have been performed with a scalpel under general anesthesia during a procedure which usually takes approximately an hour. In recent decades, many types of surgical procedures have become available for use in tonsillectomies. General or local anesthetics may be used, depending upon the method employed.
The Different Methods of Tonsillectomy
Cold Knife Dissection
During a cold knife tonsillectomy, the doctor uses a snare, a knife curved like a circle, to remove the tonsils. This method requires general anesthesia, and approximately 2 weeks of recovery time.
Using the electrocautery method, the surgeon burns the tonsillar tissue, stemming blood loss through cauterization. While this technique greatly reduces the risk of excessive bleeding.
During a coblation tonsillectomy, radio waves are used to ionize a saline solution, energizing the ions enough to enable them to cut through tissue and remove the tonsils.
This technique is used for a partial tonsillectomy. The microdebrider is a powered rotary shaving device with suction, eliminating the enlarged portion of the tonsil while preserving some tonsillar tissue. A natural biologic dressing is placed over the tonsil in order to prevent inflammation and infection. This procedure has been shown to result in minimal pain, dehydration and bleeding. Because this procedure leaves part of the tonsil intact, however, it is recommended as a treatment for enlarged tonsils rather than infected ones.
During laser ablation, a handheld laser device uses carbon dioxide to cut and destroy the tonsillar tissue. This technique reduces tonsil volume and eliminates recesses that collect recurrent infectious bacteria. This procedure is recommended for chronic sufferers of tonsillitis, chronic sore throats, severe halitosis, or airway obstruction caused by enlarged tonsils.
Some types of tonsillectomy procedures result in shorter recovery times and less post-surgical soreness, but not all types of surgery are appropriate for all patients.
What Are The Risks of a Tonsillectomy?
Although tonsillectomy is a safe procedure, there are risks involved in any surgery. While a painful sore throat and some bleeding are expected after a tonsillectomy, more serious complications, though rare, may occur. These include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Blood clots
- Adverse reactions to anesthesia or medications
- Postsurgical infection
- Breathing problems
While a tonsillectomy will greatly reduce the number of throat infections, it is possible for throat infections to recur after surgery. Additionally, the tonsils may partially grow back after a tonsillectomy, especially if some tonsillar tissue is left at the site.
Recovery After a Tonsillectomy
Most patients return home several hours after the operation and are expected to heal within one to two weeks.
Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Setzen Today
If you are interested in learning more about our Tonsillectomy procedures to see if you are a candidate, call us at 516-829-0045 to schedule a consultation. Our practice is proud to serve Great Neck, NY and the surrounding areas.