Tonsillectomy - Risks and Complications

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What was the cause, risk, and complication of you needing a tonsillectomy?

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What are the risks and complications of tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy?

The patient's surgery will be performed safely and with care in order to obtain the best possible results. The surgery may involve risks of unsuccessful results, complications, or injury from both known and unforeseen causes. Because individuals differ in their response to surgery, their anesthetic reactions, and their healing outcomes, ultimately there can be no guarantee made as to the results or potential complications. Furthermore, surgical outcomes may be dependent on preexisting or concurrent medical conditions.

The following complications have been reported in the medical literature. This list is not meant to be inclusive of every possible complication. They are listed here for your information only, not to frighten you, but to make you aware and more knowledgeable concerning this surgical procedure. Although many of these complications are rare, all have occurred at one time or another in the hands of experienced surgeons practicing the standard of community care. Anyone who is contemplating surgery must weigh the potential risks and complications against the potential benefits of the surgery or any alternative to surgery.

  1. Failure to alleviate every episode of sore throat, or resolve subsequent or concurrent ear or sinus infections/nasal drainage. Possible need for additional surgery.
  2. Bleeding. In very rare situations there may be a need for blood products or a blood transfusion. The patient has the right, should he/she choose, to have autologous or designated donor directed blood prepared in advance in case an emergency transfusion was necessary. Patients are encouraged to consult with a doctor if they are interested in this option.
  3. Infection, dehydration, prolonged pain, and/or impaired healing that could lead to the necessity for hospital admission for fluids and/or pain control.
  4. A permanent change in voice or nasal regurgitation (rare).
  5. Failure to improve the nasal airway or resolve snoring, sleep apnea, or mouth breathing.
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See what others are saying

Comment from: Mandyrenee, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: August 12

I am a 32 year old female and had sleep apnea due to enlarged tonsils. I had mine removed a week ago and this is terrible. I feel like I've swallowed glass. I have an autoimmune disease that causes overall pain, and so I have a pretty high pain tolerance. But this pain is different and seems never ending. I can't eat very much and when I do it isn't enjoyable because it always feels like food is stuck in the back of my throat. All I can say is keep rinsing with warm salt water and keep your mouth very clean. Also lozenges with benzocaine help tremendously.

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Comment from: S2s44, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: November 06

I had several reasons to get my tonsils removed. I have horrible sinus problems and the drainage would always run to my throat and cause it to be sore and I would cough up a lot, all through the night and all day. It was bad. Starting in 2012 I had been introduced to tonsil stones. Ironically it was right after college and I freaked out when I saw them. I thought it was an infection but later found out my brother and sister had them. I managed them for two years easily enough on top of the other issues. I also have ridiculously large tonsils. No one ever told me to get them looked at until I was an adult. The past year I have been to the doctor at least 8 times for my tonsils. This past time they were so swollen and infected, though I have never had strep throat, and they were cutting off my air supply. That was the last straw for me. At that time I scheduled my tonsillectomy surgery. I am now tonsil free as of 11.3.15.

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