Removal of the tonsils: when and why it is done
For the proper functioning of our immune system and ultimately our defenses, especially when we are smaller, the tonsils they become a fundamental element given that they participate in an important way in the defense of our organism and the fight against infectious diseases in the early stages of life. However, despite this important function, did you know that soon its importance is disappearing little by little, as the child grows?
Basically they consist of extensions of lymphoid tissue that we find in different areas of the body, although the best known and most popular are the tonsils or palatine tonsils, which we find located on both sides of the throat, in the pharynx, and which consist of what is known as Waldeyer's ring.
As we mentioned briefly in the previous lines, its functions are fundamental for the defenses of our body. Why? Primarily because they act by trapping bacteria, germs and antigens, they produce antibodies capable of neutralizing viruses and germs that enter our body through the nose or mouth, and process lymphatic fluid that is distributed in the different tissues of the lymphatic system.
However, despite their important functions, over time they can become a cause of chronic disease, becoming a source of problems. It is at this time when the doctor can consider the completion of a tonsillectomy, or surgery of the tonsils for its removal.
What is tonsillectomy or surgery of the tonsils?
As its name indicates, Tonsillectomy basically consists of the surgery or operation of the tonsils, useful to remove them when they are cause of chronic illness or when they cause other related problems. However, when they are excised together with the adenoids, surgery is called adenoidectomy. In most cases it is always done in children.
The adenoids are also known as vegetations, and consist of lumpy masses of spongy tissue that also help children to protect against diseases, finding them above the palate and in the back of the nasal cavity.
When is it done and why are the tonsils removed?
It is done especially when the treatment to cure the tonsillitis with medication is not effective. In any case, there are other indications that can be useful when knowing when the tonsillectomy is carried out and why. They are the following:
- The size of the tonsils: When the tonsils are very large, interfering with breathing, feeding and are a cause of apnea breaks during sleep. Also when its size favors the appearance of recurrent rhinitis or otitis.
- Recurrent infections: when there are different recurrent throat infections. For example, if a child in a period of 2 years has had between 3 to 5 outbreaks of tonsillitis per year, especially if the presence of the group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus bacteria persists, also when it causes febrile seizures.
How is removal of the tonsils done?
Before the intervention a preoperative study is carried out in order to know if there could be any anesthetic risk or during the operation. Then, during the 8 hours prior to the intervention, it is necessary to remain fasting.
During the procedure, which lasts around 25 minutes and is performed under general anesthesia in an operating room, the surgeon removes the tonsils through the mouth without making incisions in the skin, dissecting them first and then extracting them from the tonsillar bed.
Maintaining the proper care the place where the tonsils have been removed tend to heal on their own between 10 to 15 days after the intervention. REFERENCES
- Tonsillectomy or adenotonsillectomy versus non-surgical treatment for chronic / recurrent tonsillitis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Nov 19; (11): CD001802. PMID: 25407135
- Benefits and importance of tonsillectomy in children and youth with PFAPA syndrome. Laryngorhinootologie. 2011 Oct; 90 (10): 609-16. PMID: 21728146
- Clinical practice guideline: Tonsillectomy in children. American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery