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About Adenoid and Tonsil Surgery

What are tonsils and adenoids?

The tonsils and adenoids are glands found at the back of the throat. There is one tonsil on each side of the throat (as shown in fig. 1). The adenoids are more difficult to see as they are found at the back of the nose, above and behind the palate (see fig. 2). The tonsils and adenoids form a ring of tissue that helps to fight infection.

Figure 1. View of the tonsils through the mouth  Figure 2. Side view to show the position of the adenoids and the tonsils


Why is surgery on the tonsils and adenoids performed?

Tonsils and adenoids may be removed if they are doing more harm than good.
Tonsils may become repeatedly infected (tonsillitis) resulting in illness and time off work or school. In some people a collection of pus forms around the tonsil (a quinsy) warranting removal of the tonsil to prevent recurrence. Tonsils may also be removed because they are too large and block breathing at night or because the appearance is abnormal and a diagnosis needs to be made.
Adenoids may be removed if they become infected or cause a blockage. This can result in nasal obstruction, difficulty breathing at night and/or hearing problems due to a build up of fluid behind the eardrum.

Is surgery using single-use instruments performed differently?

No. The technique for removing the tonsil and adenoid tissue is the same as if traditional re-usable instruments were being used  (as illustrated in fig. 3).
The single use instruments are high-quality steel instruments that are very similar in appearance to the re-usable instruments. Each single-use instruments is opened new at the beginning of an operation and disposed of at the end of the procedure (see fig. 4).
Figure 3. Tonsil surgery being performed with single-use instruments
Figure 4. A closer look at single use instruments

Last updated: 06/05/2011