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Tonsil and Adenoid Surgery

An operation removing only the tonsils is called a tonsillectomy, and an operation removing the adenoids is called an adenoidectomy. The surgeon may decide to do one or the other, or he may perform a T&A, which is a combined operation removing both the tonsils and the adenoids.

There are several important details about your child’s surgery you should be familiar with. Surgery on the tonsils and adenoids is commonly done during childhood. The surgery may be more involved, associated with a longer recovery, or more painful during adulthood. This is because the tonsils can develop more scar tissue over time.

A T&A is performed under general anesthesia, which means your child will be asleep during surgery. The surgeon will place a small tool into the mouth to hold it open. The surgeon then removes the tonsils using instruments that also control bleeding. The surgeon removes the adenoid tissue using a spoon-shaped tool called a curette, or another tool that helps remove soft tissue and control bleeding.

Some surgeons use electricity to heat the tissue, remove it, and stop bleeding. This is called electrocautery. Another method uses radiofrequency, or RF, energy to do the same thing. This is called coblation. Absorbent material, called packing material, may also be used to control the bleeding.

The wounds heal naturally without stitches.