Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy are surgeries
that remove the
tonsils or adenoids . These surgeries are:
- Used to treat obstructive
sleep apnea (OSA) in children.
- Rarely used to treat
snoring in adults.
- Not used to treat
snoring in children.
The surgeries typically require a stay in the hospital.
What To Expect After Surgery
You may need close monitoring after
surgery. Your doctor or surgeon will watch:
- For throat swelling, nerve injury, and
sleepiness. The surgery itself and the medicines that are used during surgery
can cause this.
- Your blood oxygen levels during the first 2 to 3
nights after surgery.
Children who are younger than 3 years and who have other
medical conditions, such as
Down syndrome, are more likely to have complications,
especially difficulty breathing. These children may need
oxygen therapy or
continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy
Why It Is Done
Your doctor may suggest tonsillectomy
and adenoidectomy to treat sleep apnea if you have enlarged tonsils and
adenoids that are blocking your airway during sleep. This is often the first
treatment option for children, because enlarged tonsils and adenoids are
usually the cause of their sleep apnea.
How Well It Works
Children who have a tonsillectomy
and adenoidectomy to treat sleep apnea usually have a noticeable improvement in
their symptoms within 6 months of the surgery. Parents have reported decreases
- Snoring, coughing, and
- Overactivity (hyperactivity) and other behavioral
- Restless sleep.
In children, these procedures appear to be successful in
treating obstructive sleep apnea 75% to 100% of the time, even if the child is
After a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, your
throat will be sore. This can make eating and swallowing difficult for a few
days. Other possible complications after surgery include:
- Excessive bleeding.
(Some bleeding is expected.)
What To Think About
Snoring is not always considered a
medical problem, so your insurance may not pay for treatment.
Simply looking at the size of your tonsils and adenoids cannot predict
whether you will have snoring or breathing problems.
If you have
other health problems, your doctor may have to treat them before you have this
Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy are the most common
treatment for children who have obstructive sleep apnea.
- Children who have certain health problems that
cause bony deformities of the face and head, such as
dwarfism or Down syndrome, may need close monitoring
before surgery. Also, children who have nervous and muscular disorders, such as
cerebral palsy, or who have a head injury may need to
be monitored closely before surgery.
- Children who have other
conditions, such as
asthma, upper respiratory infections, and heart
problems, need to be treated for those conditions before and after surgery to
reduce the risk of complications.
Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.
Schechter MS, et al. (2002). Technical report: Diagnosis and management of childhood obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Pediatrics, 109(4): E69. Available online: http://www.pediatrics.org/cgi/content/full/109/4/e69.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Mark A. Rasmus, MD - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Sleep Medicine|
|Last Revised||June 17, 2011|