Pediatric Tonsillectomy

This information is useful for children
A mother checks her daughter's sore throat.
Why Yale Medicine?
  • We are one of the few area practices skilled at performing partial tonsillectomies, which offers less pain and a quicker recovery than other methods for children.
  • We use the most current technologies, which lead to less bleeding and fewer complications, for partial and total tonsillectomies.
  • We work closely with other colleagues who only treat children, including anesthesiologists, sleep medicine specialists and speech and swallow experts.

Everyone is born with a set of tonsils, fleshy masses of lymphatic tissue located at the base of the throat. If they are enlarged or chronically infected, this can affect a person’s breathing and/or swallowing and your doctor may suggest a tonsillectomy (or removal of the tonsils).

While any surgical procedure is not to be taken lightly, this is especially true when it involves a child. Yale Medicine is unique in that we have a team of pediatric otolaryngologists, or ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists, who have additional training in treating only children—both medically and surgically when necessary.

General ENTs can treat children as well, but they have not had additional years of training in the pediatric specialty. If it is determined that your child needs surgery, you can rest assured that all of our pediatric ENTs work exclusively with pediatric anesthesiologists. This is a very important consideration for many parents. 

Erik Waldman, MD, Yale Medicine’s chief of Pediatric Otolaryngology, is one of the few specialists in the area who has been trained to perform a partial tonsillectomy and identify patients who may be candidates for this procedure. A partial tonsillectomy provides equal benefit to the right child and results in less post-operative pain and a quicker recovery than a traditional total tonsillectomy. These kids often begin eating normally soon after their procedure and can return to school and their usual activities much faster. Narcotics are seldom warranted and post-operative bleeding almost never occurs.

Dr. Waldman and his colleague, Cecilia Helwig, MD, assistant director of Pediatric Otolaryngology, also offer coblation tonsillectomy, a specialized procedure that uses radiofrequency energy and saline. “This is a technology that reportedly is better tolerated by kids including less pain, less bleeding and fewer complications,” Dr. Helwig says.