Tonsils only need to be removed if patients suffer recurrent sore throats despite treatment with antibiotics or, sometimes, small children have tonsils so big they block their breathing at night. A quinsy is an abscess which develops alongside the tonsil, as a result of tonsil infection, and is most unpleasant. People who have had a quinsy therefore often choose to have a tonsillectomy to prevent having another. Tonsils are also removed if we suspect there is a tumour. A rapid increase in the size of a tonsil or ulceration or bleeding occurs if a tumour of the tonsil develops. Tumours of the tonsil are rare.
Tonsillectomies are completed under a general anaesthetic with the tonsils being taken out through the mouth which takes about 30 minutes. Most patients will be sent home the same day while others may remain in hospital for one night following a tonsillectomy.
Large obstructive tonsils in a child. Tonsils like this can result in sleep apnoea, which is cured by removing the tonsils.