Tonsillectomy is advisable when tonsillitis attacks are so frequent or severe that they affect a child's general health or interfere with school, hearing, or breathing. However, tonsillectomies are thought to be done more often than necessary, so a second opinion should be obtained when there is any doubt.
Specifically, the guidelines for surgery are:
- 5 or more episodes of tonsillitis in one year, or
- 3 or more episodes per year over a 2-year period, or
- upper airway obstruction due to tonsillar hypertrophy
- recurrent tonsillar abscess
Tonsillectomy is advised if the tonsils are enlarged and obstructing access to the adenoid during an adenoidectomy operation, or the physician suspects the presence of a tonsil tumor.
Review Date 8/5/2015
Updated by: Sumana Jothi MD, Specialist in Laryngology, Clinical Instructor UCSF Otolaryngology, NCHCS VA, SFVA, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.