T&A Surgery


Dr. Connolly
Surgery to remove the tonsils and adenoids is less common than it once was, but it is still recommended for many children with chronic problems with tonsillitis, enlarged tonsils and adenoids, and obstructive sleep apnea. Captain Darin, can you tell us what this surgery entails?

Captain Darin
Certainly, Dr. Connolly. An operation removing only the tonsils is called a tonsillectomy, and an operation removing the adenoids is called an adenoidectomy. Depending on your child's specific condition, your child's provider may recommend one procedure or the other. In some cases, the provider may recommend that both the tonsils and adenoids be removed at the same time, a procedure called a T&A.

A T&A is performed under general anesthesia, which means your child will be asleep during surgery. The surgeon will place a small tool into the mouth to hold it open, and instruments that also control bleeding are used to remove the tonsils. A spoon-shaped tool called a curette may be used to remove the adenoids. Absorbent material, called packing material, may also be used to control the bleeding.

Electrocautery is a form of T&A surgery that uses electricity to heat the tissue, remove it, and stop bleeding. Another method, called coblation, uses radiofrequency, or RF, energy to do the same thing.

The wounds heal naturally without stitches, but your child will need a lot of tender loving care after the surgery. They will likely have a significant amount of pain for the first week following the procedure, and swelling of the uvula may make your child feel like they have something in the back of their throat that needs to be swallowed. Talk to your child's provider about ways to help your child during this recovery period.