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Tonsillectomy - series—Indications

Indications

Overview

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 8/1/2017

Updated by: Ashutosh Kacker, MD, FACS, Professor of Clinical Otolaryngology, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Attending Otolaryngologist, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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