Tonsillectomy is one of the most common surgical procedures performed in North America. Although this is overall a very safe procedure, any surgery has a risk of complications. Knowing what to expect from recovery and what to watch for is the best way to avoid a serious problem. Tonsillectomy will normally cause significant throat pain for up to two weeks. A soft diet and liquid pain medicine are often prescribed to prevent any additional discomfort.
Unfortunately, tonsillectomy complications can and do arise. Patients in Monroe New Jersey with severe obstructive sleep apnea, asthma, or morbid obesity represent a small number of the patients undergoing tonsillectomy. These patients do have increased risks for complications due to airway swelling and obstruction. As a result, they may be recommended for overnight stay in the hospital for a period of observation.
Children under three years old are also typically recommended for observation. Due to the throat pain, it is often difficult for these patients to remain hydrated and sometimes will be readmitted to the hospital for intravenous fluids.
The most feared, yet well-studied complication is a post-tonsillectomy hemorrhage. Up to 2% of patients will have bleeding from the wound in the back of the throat. If it occurs, hemorrhages typically develop 5 to 10 days after surgery and can be quite profuse. In addition to contacting your surgeon, immediate medical attention is warranted. Up to one half of the patients who do have post-operative bleeding will need to return to the operating room to have it stopped. Because of this possibility, it is very important to notify your surgeon of a family history of bleeding problems or any “blood thinning” medications.
Despite the urgent nature and severity of these complications, they are not common. Patients who do have complications, typically heal well and have no serious long term deficits.