What To Expect If Your Child Needs A Tonsillectomy

If your doctor has suggested a tonsillectomy for your child, learn about the routine and procedures that follow after your child has his tonsils removed.

If your child has experienced frequent colds, sore throats and ear infections your physician might recommend that the child have his tonsils removed. Snoring loudly or having long pauses in between snores could be another signal that the tonsils might need to go. When taking the tonsils the surgeon generally takes the adenoids as well to prevent a problem with them at a later date. If the physician notices that the tonsils are particularly swollen he might recommend that the surgery be done within the next couple of weeks.

To make the child more comfortable until the surgery the physician may recommend that the child sleep in a propped up position rather than lying down. This will help the child breathe better and sleep more soundly.

Your child will first be scheduled to have some blood work done at the hospital. This usually consists of one needle inserted in to the arm and three to four tubes of blood withdrawn. This can be traumatic to a child so don't be alarmed if you and a couple of nurses are summoned to hold the child down. Even if the child is kicking and screaming the blood work must be done before the surgery schedule can continue. The blood is tested for type, hemophilia and other disorders.

The child will see the doctor once more before the surgery and the physician will then explain the procedure. Normally the child will be required to do without food or water after midnight the night before the surgery. The patient should arrive about a half hour before the scheduled surgery to allow time for paperwork and a short discussion with the attending physicians.

An anesthesiologist will discuss the steps he will take with the child which normally include first giving the child a pill or liquid that will cause him to relax or even get sleepy. In some cases the child can even choose the flavor of the gas he will be given just before the operation. Gas for surgery now comes in flavors or aromas like strawberry, cherry and mint.

Many hospitals have a comfortable room with recliners and TV where the family can gather together while the child relaxes. By then the street clothes have been traded for hospital gowns. The surgeon normally comes in the relaxation room with the family and discusses the procedure, how long it will take and how long the expected stay will be in the recovery room.



Shortly afterwards a wheel chair is brought in and the child is taken, without family members, to the operating room. Even if the child begins to cry or plead he will be asleep within minutes so there's no need to worry.

The procedure takes only about 15 minutes and the child is then taken to the recovery room for about an hour. Usually one or two family members can see the child after the initial hour is up but groups of people will not be admitted to recovery.

When it's time for the child to go home he will be escorted in the wheel chair to the main doors where you will await with the car. The doctor has probably asked that you try to keep the child from talking or getting upset for at least 24 hours. Some will recommend no speaking for 48 hours. A chalk board or dry erase board will help those children who can write. Use pillows to prop the child up for the first week after the surgery.

The child will not be able to eat normal foods for about a week. Soft menu items like ice cream, gelatin, puddings and even baby food can be eaten. Avoid hot foods for the first few days after the surgery. Pain medication is given usually every four hours. After the prescription is finished and if the child is still in pain try an over-the-counter pain reliever.

Within a couple of weeks the doctor will want to see the child and check to see that healing is going as expected. At that time he might give the okay for the child to have regular foods again.

If at any time after the surgery the child begins to have any bleeding, fever or has trouble breathing notify the doctor immediately.

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