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Complications of Tonsil and Adenoid Surgery

Some postoperative risks that are specifically related to tonsil and/or adenoid surgery include:

  • Delayed bleeding from the tonsillar area – Although delayed bleeding after tonsillectomy occurs in a small percentage of all patients, it can happen anytime after the procedure, but usually within two weeks of the surgery. Most of the time this bleeding is minor, but there are large blood vessels nearby that can lead to more serious bleeding. If your child has any bleeding after leaving the hospital, it is recommended that you immediately go to the nearest emergency room.
  • Unusual scarring of the soft palate and tissues in the back of the throat – Scarring in the region of the soft palate and tissues surrounding the adenoid pad has become very rare due to advances in surgical techniques. If it should occur, additional surgery can correct the issue. However, these operations are fairly complicated and may require several stages.
  • Problems sealing the soft palate against the back wall of the throat – Children with extremely large adenoid pads may have some short-term problems moving the soft palate after removal of the adenoids. The soft palate may have become a bit “lazy” because the adenoid pad was helping to seal off the back of the nasal cavities during speech and swallowing. If the seal is weak, children can have temporary changes in speech quality or have fluid leak from the nose when drinking rapidly. If this happens, talk to your child’s provider. Usually time and simple speech exercises are adequate therapy for development of necessary strength and bulk in the muscles of the soft palate, so that it can create a good seal. It’s very unlikely that any surgical procedures would be required to lengthen the soft palate itself.