Post-op Tonsillectomy: What to expect

In most instances you will be admitted to hospital overnight and allowed home the following day.

Immediately after surgery, the local anaesthetic placed into the tonsillectomy wound minimises the degree of discomfort. It is important during this time to begin eating and drinking. It is also important to eat as normal a diet as you can. Each time that you swallow, it provides a cleaning type mechanism to the tonsillectomy wound. Early return to a normal diet tends to speed recovery and minimise complications.

The following day, once the local anaesthetic has worn off, the discomfort can be increased. As long as you can take oral analgesics and a reasonable fluid intake you will be allowed home.

If you have also had an adenoidectomy, you may notice some minor blood staining of your nasal mucous, or on the pillow at night for the first few days

 It is very important to take pain relief on a regular basis. Adults should initially take panadiene forte, 2 tablets every 4-6 hours, with a maximum of 8 per day, or Digesic, 2 tablets every 4 hours. Once the discomfort begins to subside change to panadiene and then to panadol. If stronger pain relief is required the use of Endone for a short period is useful. Some people find chewing gum between meals can help to minimise spasm, and keeps the oral cavity moist.

For children painstop during the day and painstop night-time regularly should be given. I would recommend avoiding painstop in children less than 2.

The normal course often shows a peak in discomfort around day 5, followed by progressive improvement.

You should schedule 2 weeks off work or school,  with return earlier than this often possible.

The major risk of surgery, albeit rare, is that of bleeding. It is seen in approximately 1 in 20 patients. If it occurs you will notice the coughing up or spitting up of bright fresh blood about a week after surgery. If this is any more than a teaspoon, or ongoing, please suck on an ice block, or ice chips and both let me know and make your way into hospital.

Almost always this type of bleeding stops spontaneously, but very rarely you may even need to be taken back to the operating theatre.

A post-operative visit is usually scheduled about 3 weeks after your operation.

If you have any questions or problems please call us on 93805380. If it is after hours the best number to call is 83821111, which is St Vincent’s Public Hospital and ask to speak to the ENT registrar. If it is urgent call my mobile phone.

In an emergency situation please make your way to the closest major hospital