Surgery for Tonsillitis & Adenoiditis

Doctors at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone doctors may recommend surgery for children who have had many infections. Surgery is also recommended when medications do not eliminate these infections or relieve the symptoms of tonsillitis and adenoiditis—enlarged tonsils and adenoid tissue. During surgery, your child’s doctors may remove the enlarged tonsils, adenoid tissue, or both.

Our surgeons have pioneered techniques that involve removing only part of the tonsils and adenoid tissue, which is located at the back of the nasal cavity and consists of a single patch of tissue that contains lymphocytes, or white blood cells that help to fight off infections from viruses or bacteria. These techniques have become the standard of care for children with tonsillitis and adenoiditis.

Intracapsular Tonsillectomy

During an intracapsular tonsillectomy, a surgeon removes most of the tonsils but leaves a tiny portion of tissue embedded in the muscle. This approach nearly eliminates the risk of bleeding and reduces the need for pain medication after surgery when compared to a complete tonsillectomy, as was commonly done in the past. Sometimes tonsils grow back after this operation, although not to their original size. Most children return to school three to five days after surgery.

Doctors may recommend surgery to remove all of the tonsil tissue in children who have had severe and repeated infections. This technique ensures that the tonsils do not grow back.


During an adenoidectomy, the surgeon removes the portion of the adenoid tissue that is inflamed. There is a very low risk of bleeding after adenoidectomy. Adenoid tissue does not usually grow back after it has been removed.

These outpatient procedures are done at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital, and your child is typically given general anesthesia. Most children can return home the day of surgery and to school in less than a week. The doctor may prescribe a mild pain reliever, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to ensure that your child doesn’t feel any discomfort after the procedure.

Our doctors typically schedule follow-up visits for a week after surgery. During this visit, they determine if your child is feeling better and healing well, and they make sure there is no bleeding or ongoing swelling.

Resources for Tonsillitis & Adenoiditis in Children
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