Tonsillectomy is a very common procedure in the field of head and neck surgery. Most cases are operated and recover without any complication. Patients are usually operated as outpatient and are discharged within a few hours following the procedure. Those at risk of complication might be admitted overnight for close observation. The main issues in postoperative care is control of pain and return to normal diet.
Throat pain is common after tonsillectomy. It is usually experienced on swallowing. The pain usually resolves within two weeks. Some patients also experience ear pain which is a referred pain from the pharynx. This pain may limit drinking and potentially cause dehydration. Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are usually the first-line therapy to control postoperative swallowing pain. Sometimes, opioids are used if additional analgesia is required.
Some patients, occasionally, experience nausea and vomiting. It may also contribute to dehydration. Prophylactic treatment with glucocorticoids at the time of surgery and serotonergic antagonist drugs after the surgery are used to control the nausea and vomiting.
Patients should take adequate liquids following surgeries to help them remain hydrated and increase the pace of recovery. There is no need to limit activity following tonsillectomy. It is also common to experience bad breath following surgery which usually goes away within 2 weeks. There is usually no need to start antimicrobial therapy after tonsillectomy.
There are some complications that might occasionally happen following surgery. Some complications are not specific to tonsillectomy which include anesthesia-related complications. Airway problems lie in this category which include laryngospasm and bronchospasm.
Bleeding after tonsillectomy could be categorized as early and late bleeding. It usually stops spontaneously. Very rarely, patients might be required to return back to operating room to control bleeding. Late bleeding is sometimes associated with other complications such as infection.
Superficial infection at the site of tonsillectomy is common and partially contributes to the bad breath. It usually resolves spontaneously and rarely requires any treatment. Bronchopulmonary infection might be seen from an extension of a prior upper respiratory infection but true pneumonia is extremely rare.
A specific device is used to keep the mouth open during the surgery. Rarely, it may cause a mild injury to the temporomandibular joint. It is a rare incidence and does not require medical intervention.
At times, patients might develop a transient nasal speech which resolves spontaneously. Mortality after tonsillectomy is extremely rare and when it happens, it is usually due to other complications which can happen following almost all surgeries.
Still have something to ask?
Get help from other members!