Frequently asked questions


Why are adenotonsillectomies performed?

There are two primary reasons that your doctor may suggest a tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy: enlarged tonsils leading to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or recurrent tonsillitis.

Enlarged tonsils, called “tonsil hypertrophy”, can cause difficulty breathing, a condition known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or OSA. Patients suffering with OSA can exhibit a variety of symptoms, including bedwetting an abnormal amount, difficulty focusing in school, and snoring. Chronic enlarged tonsils can sometimes get in the wat of normal breathing, sinus drainage, sleeping, swallowing, and speaking1.

On the other hand, you or your child may be experiencing recurrent tonsillitis, an infection of the tonsils. Symptoms of tonsillitis may include sore throat, difficulty or pain when swallowing, and fever.

Similarly, the adenoids are found just out of sight at the back of your throat. The adenoids serve a similar function to the tonsils and as such, may need to be removed as well as the tonsils to give relief to sufferers of OSA and/or recurrent tonsillitis. If both the tonsils and the adenoids are removed, this is referred to as an Adenotonsillectomy.

If you or your child are suffering with symptoms of OSA or recurrent tonsillitis, it may be advised to speak to an ENT specialist to determine a treatment plan1.


What is an ENT doctor?

ENT doctors are physicians who specialize in the management and treatment of the disorders and diseases of the ear, nose, and throat (ENT) parts of the head and neck.

When it comes to tonsillitis and other conditions affecting the ears, nose, and/or throat, ENT doctors are skilled at diagnosing and managing conditions.

If you notice any of the symptoms of recurrent tonsillitis or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in your child, a visit to an ENT specialist may be recommended.


How do I prepare for surgery?

Properly preparing for a tonsillectomy can help ensure a positive outcome and making plans for the return home post-operatively is a key component of that preparation. Your doctor may suggest purchasing soft foods and having a vaporizer around for moist air. You may also choose to have a tablet, paper or electronic, to write notes in case you or your child find talking uncomfortable.

You may also find it helpful to read the pages on conditions and on technique to know the options for surgery and be prepared for a conversation with your doctor. You should feel empowered to ask your surgeon any questions you might have, regardless of how simple or complex they might seem.

The COBLATION◊ procedure is typically performed as an outpatient procedure. It is almost always done under general anesthesia and is usually complete in around 30 minutes. The surgeon uses a special COBLATION wand to remove the tonsils and/or adenoids. Consult with your surgeon for details on their surgical process to learn more specific information about what to expect.

Consult your surgeon for specific information regarding post-operative care instructions, but generally, patients are instructed to find softer foods easier to eat and swallow, rest at home, and avoid rigorous physical activity for a short time following surgery.

Postoperative care is individualized and is determined by the physician based on the patient’s symptoms, injury pattern, unique patient anatomy, patient medical history, and individual treatment requirements. Not all patients will have the same surgical procedure or timelines for rehabilitation.

Learn more about the treatment options for you or your child

No matter how statistically safe a procedure has proven to be, every surgery has risks. Post Tonsillectomy Hemorrhage (PTH) is a potentially serious complication that has been reported in literature for both adult and pediatric patients. It is reported to occur following use of COBLATION devices as well as following the use of other surgical devices and methods. Before making any surgical decision, you should speak with your doctor about any potential risks.

The information listed on this site is for informational and educational purposes and is not meant as medical advice. Every patient’s case is unique, results will vary, and each patient should follow his or her doctor’s specific instructions. Please talk to your doctor to determine what treatment may be best for you.

COBLATION wands are contraindicated for use in patients with cardiac pacemakers or other electronic device implants.

  1. American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. Tonsils and Adenoids. 2014. Available at: Accessed April 12, 2016.

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