Diagnostic Hearing Tests
Downloadable Fact Sheets
Learn About Grommets

Tonsils and Adenoids


What is Tonsillectomy?

Tonsillectomy is the surgical procedure to remove the tonsils


What is Adenoidectomy?

Adenoidectomy is the surgical procedure to remove the adenoids



The tonsils are tissue masses, which lie each side of the soft palate. The adenoids are a mass of soft tissue which lies behind the palate and is generally not seen when looking into the mouth. Both the tonsils and the adenoids play a weak role in the defence against viruses and bacteria. When removed there is not a change to the overall immune status.

The adenoids are small pads of tissue found behind the back of the nose above the throat. They cannot be seen by looking in the mouth. Adenoids can become very large and block the eustachian tubes (the tubes from the middle ears to the back of the nose) and cause ear infections. Large adenoids can also block the nasal airway causing your child to breathe through his mouth and snore at night. Adenoids can become infected and carry germs. 


Reasons for Removal of Tonsils and Adenoids

There are a number of reasons to remove the tonsils and the adenoids. One is that of chronic tonsillitis. Acute episodes of tonsillitis are generally treated with antibiotics.

Tonsils and Adenoids

Most people at some time in their life have an episode of tonsillitis. When the episodes are frequent, this may be an indication for removing them. The decision to remove the tonsils and adenoids is made for each patient with consideration to several factors. These include the number of bouts of tonsillitis, the severity of the tonsillitis, the impact the episodes have on the patient’s life such as time missed from school or work and associated factors such as the response or side effects of antibiotics.

Other infections that may require the removal of the tonsils include glandular fever tonsillitis and quinsy. Obstructive sleep apnoea and disordered breathing is an indication for removal of tonsils and adenoids. In this situation the patient, usually a child, finds difficulty in obtaining air at night time. Their sleeping is disturbed and they snore loudly. There may be pauses in their breathing (apnoea) which may be followed by gasping for air.


The surgery

Tonsillectomy is performed under a general anaesthetic as an overnight stay in hospital. Do not eat or drink anything, including chewing gum for 6 hours prior to scheduled operation. Mr Watson generally removes the tonsils using a diathermy procedure. This cauterises the tissues and therefore prevents them from bleeding. At times, self-dissolving stitches may be used but in general there are no stitches. Adenoidectomy is performed by removing the tissue from behind the palate via the mouth. Once again the area remaining where the tissue mass has been removed heals on its own without the need for stitches.


Click here to download a PDF Fact Sheet  


A Guide for Mr Watson’s Patients
  Click to download this PDF


Contact Us for More Information