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Complications of tonsillectomy

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team


  • primary - at the time of operation
  • reactionary - within the first 24 hours. In co-operative patients, may be managed by removal of clot and applied pressure, but usually require a return to theatre for exploration and ligation of bleeding points
  • secondary - within 7-10 days. Usually from infection causing fibrinolysis. Managed with antibiotics, usually penicillin, either intravenously or orally


  • otitis media
  • infection in the tonsillar fossae - usually treated with antibiotics

Pulmonary - from inhalation of blood or tissue fragments. These are rare, for example:

  • pulmonary abscess
  • pneumonia

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