Feature Article

Choosing the appropriate patients for tonsillectomy

Ian Jacobson



Tonsillectomy has significant benefits when performed on appropriate patients. Indications for the surgery are clear and need to be met. Patients should be warned of the pain they will experience postoperatively.

Key Points

  • Tonsillectomy is one of the most common operations performed on children in Australia.
  • The most common indication for the procedure is an obstructive breathing pattern.
  • Postoperative pain is almost universal. However, patient education before surgery about simple strategies for analgesia can minimise its impact.
  • Postoperative haemorrhage is the most troublesome complication and needs to be recognised and acted on immediately.
  • The possibility of malignancy and lymphoma need to be considered in tonsils with an atypical appearance.