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 8/12/2019
Updated by: Josef Shargorodsky, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.