Tonsillectomy is a surgical method that is done to remove tonsils. Tonsils are small glands located in the back of the throat and these have white blood cells to fight against infection, but sometimes the tonsils become infected. Tonsillitis is a kind of infection that, which make the tonsils swell and give a soar throat to the affected person. Other than these, tonsillitis cause fever, trouble swallowing and swollen glands around the neck. While checking the patients, doctors notice that whether the throat is red and tonsils are covered in a whitish or yellow coating. Sometime, swelling cures by itself or tonsillectomy with antibiotics is suggested by the surgeons. A tonsillectomy can also be done for curing breathing problems like heavy snoring and sleep apnea.
Who Needs a Tonsillectomy?
Tonsils problem are highly common the children and adults above the age 60. However, people of any age can have the tonsils problem and they may require this surgery. This tonsillectomy is a treatment option for those persons who often fall sick due to the tonsillitis or strep throat.
Tonsillectomy can also treat other medical problems, including:
- Breathing problems related to swollen tonsils
- Trouble swallowing chewy foods, especially meats
- Bleeding of the tonsils
- Periods in which you stop breathing during sleep, or sleep apnea
- Frequent and loud snoring
- Cancer of the tonsils
What is a Tonsillectomy ?
The procedure is performed to remove the tonsils for treating tonsillitis. The problem of tonsillitis is due to the inflammation of tonsils and is caused either by bacteria or a virus. The condition is most commonly seen in children and rarely in adults. The symptoms in children suffering from tonsillitis are swollen glands, fever and sore throat. Streptococcus virus is the most common cause of tonsils in the children. The problem of tonsillitis can be very frequent and chronic also. Tonsillectomy is the most effective treatment amongst all the treatments available.
A part of the lymphoid tissue group, tonsils prevents infection from germs which are either swallowed or breathed. The problem of tonsillitis occurs when they become infected. When children have more than 4 attacks every year then tonsillectomy is suggested. While in adults, less attacks are required before suggesting tonsillectomy. Sometimes the attacks are so serious that there are less chances of the attacks to stop by themselves.
Indications for Tonsillectomy
- Suspicion of tonsillar malignancy
- Tonsillitis occurring 3 or more times each year over a period of 2 years
- The removal of tonsils is usually done when other medical therapy has failed
- Tonsillitis occurring 5 or more times every year
- Tonsillitis is not responding to antibiotics
- Tonsillar hypertrophy is the most common indication that poses obstruction leading to sleep disturbance or sleep apnea
- Recurrent ear infections
The normal sized tonsils are removed that is obstructing narrow upper airway due to dental abnormalities, orofacial or congenital abnormalities.
Recurrent or chronic tonsillitis
The problems caused by obstructing tonsils and the removal is necessary if the conditions are not attributable to the other causes. It gets difficult to figure out the blockage as the tonsils may be long and the narrow area is lowering down the throat.
Failure to thrive
Corpulmonale-right-sided heart enlargement due to disease in the air passages
Swallowing or speech abnormalities
The surgical procedure of tonsillectomy can be performed with adenoidectomy or even without it. The procedure is done on an outpatient basis under general or local anesthesia (patient asleep).
The surgeon makes the patient sit with head forward and opening its mouth wide open.
Both adenoids and tonsils can be taken out of their bed with the help of different methods. The method adopted depends on the choice of surgeon and does not affect the length of the surgical procedure. Different methods used are –
- Electrocautery (hot electric knife that is used to seal bleeding vessels)
- Metal snares
- Blunt dissecting instruments
- The surgeon controls the bleeding of the patient and also makes him awakened.
Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy
Both tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy are surgically performed to eliminate adenoids and tonsils. The masses of immune cells that are found in the lymphoid tissue (lymph glands) are adenoids and tonsils. They are basically located in the mouth and at the back of the nasal passages. Oversized tonsils can cause chronic sore throat, dental malocclusion, bad breath, obstruction of the upper airway causing problem in swallowing and sleep apnea. On the other hand, oversized infected adenoids can cause ear infections or can also obstruct breathing.
Coblation is the word that is derived from controlled ablation or removal. The surgical procedure of coblation tonsillectomy is performed by using an ablation wand (pen-like device) and radio frequency radiation to remove tonsils either partially or completely. The procedure helps in removing the tonsils safely without damaging the surrounding tissues. The entire procedure takes about 30-45 minutes time and is done under general or local anesthesia.
The patients who are suffering from severe tonsillitis or from oversized tonsils, laser tonsillectomy technique is performed. The laser technique is highly advanced technique and is aimed at improving the patient’s condition by reducing the size of the tonsils. By using laser technique, the patients are not required to go for surgeries that involves incisions and cutting. The core element of the laser procedure is state of the art technology.
Purpose of Laser Tonsillectomy
The technique is used to correct certain serious tonsil conditions. The conditions treated by using this technique are-
- The patients suffering from oversized tonsils as tonsil stones develop the serious conditions of sleep apnea and snoring.
- Chronically affected tonsillitis.
- Recurring symptoms of painful tonsillitis