Tonsillectomy, Adenoidectomy (Tonsil Removal)

Tonsils are oval-shaped nodes on the sides of the throat, and adenoids are glands at the very back of the roof of the mouth. Both help your body prevent and fight infections as part of your lymphatic system. Tonsils are believed to stop germs from entering your body, and tonsils and adenoids produce antibodies to fight bacteria and viruses. However, they can also become infected themselves, which can lead to other problems. Many older adults may have had their tonsils and even their adenoids removed as children because the procedure was once very routine. Today, neither is performed as often. Removal of the tonsils or adenoids is more likely to become necessary in children than in adults, but both may benefit from the procedures.

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Provider List

2900 12th Avenue North #350 W
Billings, MT 59101
(406) 238-6161

What is a Tonsillectomy or Adenoidectomy

Any procedure that ends in -ectomy indicates the surgical removal of that of a specific part of the body, so a tonsillectomy is performed to remove the tonsils and an adenoidectomy the adenoids.

When Procedure is Used

Both procedures are performed because infections cause the tonsils or adenoids to become enlarged and to interfere with normal functions. Enlarged tonsils can cause problems with general breathing, with breathing during sleep (especially related to snoring and sleep apnea), and with swallowing. Enlarged adenoids can obstruct breathing and can cause sinus and ear infections. If your child’s or your own tonsils or adenoids become infected seven times in a year or at least five times in each of the last two years, you may want to consider having them removed. While infections are the most common reason for these procedures, they are also removed on rare occasions because of cancerous tissue or recurring bleeding.

During Surgery

A general anesthetic is given to relax your muscles, prevent pain, and help you fall asleep. Whether you or your child are having your tonsils or adenoids removed, the procedure lasts about half an hour. During that time, the doctor will cut out the tissue with a scalpel or will use heat to destroy tissue and stop bleeding through cauterization.


The risks are low. However, potential risks might include

  • allergic reactions to medications.
  • swelling
  • bleeding during surgery and throughout the healing process
  • infection


  • fewer incidents of a sore throat
  • elimination of tonsillitis (inflamed tonsils)
  • improvements in breathing and swallowing

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