Tonsillectomy (Child)

This page will provide you with information about your child having a tonsillectomy. For further details, please speak to your consultant.

What is a tonsillectomy?

A tonsillectomy is a procedure to remove the tonsils, which form a group of lymphoid tissues at the rear of your throat – much like the glands in your neck. They help to fight infection from germs that enter our mouths when we breathe or swallow. As you get older, yours tonsils become less important to fight infection.

If your Consultant has recommended a tonsillectomy for your child, this page will provide you with more information about the procedure.

Figure 1 Tonsillitis

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What are the alternatives to surgery?

Surgery is recommended as it is only dependable way to stop tonsillitis that keeps on coming back. In children, a long course of antibiotics may break the cycle of frequent infections or the tonsillitis may simply stop after a few years.

What will happen if I decide that my child will not have the operation?

Your child will probably keep on getting tonsillitis but the attacks may become less frequent over time. An abscess can sometimes form behind the tonsil. The is know as “quinsy”. The pus will need to be removed from the abcess through a needle, and your child will need antibiotics.

What will happen during the operation?

The surgeon will remove the tonsils in either one of three ways:

  • Peeling or cutting it away from the attaching muscle underneath.
  • Applying heat to the area to remove the tonsils and cauterise the area.
  • Using radio-frequency energy in order to dissolve the tonsils.

Once the tonsils have been removed, any additional bleeding will be stopped by the consultant. The procedure takes approximately 30 minutes and will be carried out under general anaesthetic

Risks and complications

Any risks or complications will be discussed in advance of your treatment with your expert consultant.

How soon will my child recover?

After the operation your child will be transferred to the recovery area and then go to the ward. They should be able to go home the same day. However, your consultant may recommend your child stays a little longer.

Your child will not be able to go home unless they are eating properly. It is important your child eats normal food that needs to be chewed and swallowed. This keeps the muscles at the back of the throat moving. If the muscles seize up, the pain will get worse.

If you’re worried about anything, please do not hesistate to contact the hospital or your consultant.


Tonsillitis can cause numerous problems, most notably pain and discomfort. A tonsillectomy will completely remove the tonsils to prevent tonsillitis from returning.


EIDO Healthcare Limited – The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare.

The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

Tonsillectomy (Child) Consultants