ENT surgery – the operations

Tonsillectomy, tympanoplasty – what do the different operations mean? How long will you be off work? What are the chances of success? Find out more here:

Tonsils and adenoids:

Removal of the adenoids – adenoidectomy

Very large adenoids can cause children to have more frequent colds, snore, and have hearing problems. The operation can be done as an outpatient under anaesthetic and takes about 20 minutes. It is always combined with a small incision in the eardrum. No lasting complications are to be expected. Young patients recover within a week.

Removal of the tonsils – tonsillectomy

A need for antibiotics several times a year justifies surgical removal of the tonsils. The operation is carried out under a general anaesthetic and you will be in hospital for two or three days. The tonsils are removed from their bed of tissue. The area remains open and heals within two to three weeks. Adults find the wound healing more painful than children do. Complications: the risk of bleeding within two weeks of surgery is less than 10%. It is necessary to be off work for two to three weeks.


Correction of a deviated nasal septum – septoplasty

This operation is often carried out to improve nasal breathing. Difficulty breathing through the nose frequently impacts upon your quality of life. The operation is usually performed under general anaesthetic and you will be in hospital for about three days. Packs in both nostrils are needed for two days to prevent bleeding. The immediate effects of the operation are bearable. The sense of smell is affected for only a few weeks. Time off work and postoperative outpatient care last two to three weeks.

Correction of the cartilage and bone in the nose – septorhinoplasty

This is a more extensive operation that is necessary for crooked noses or saddle noses after trauma. The procedure on the cartilage and bones requires two to three hours’ surgery followed by splinting with a plaster cast. Discolouration of the skin over the face is unavoidable and lasts about two weeks. Full recovery takes about four weeks.


Chronic runny nose, loss of the sense of smell, and frequent headaches indicate a diagnosis of chronic sinusitis. If various medications don’t help, it may be necessary to open up the sinuses surgically. This operation is carried out in hospital, under general anaesthetic. The inflamed tissue is removed from the affected sinuses through an endoscope passed through the nostril.

Complications are extremely rare but may be serious because the surgical field is very close to the eyes and the brain.

Three weeks’ postoperative care is essential. Time off work is usually about three weeks.


Paracentesis and grommets

When children are under the age of twelve (mostly between the ages of three and eight), it is usually necessary to make a small incision in the eardrum at the same time as the adenoids are removed. This allows air to enter the middle ear and improves hearing. For sustained improvement in hearing, it may be necessary to insert small tubes called grommets (this can be done under the same outpatient anaesthetic).

Repair of the eardrum – tympanoplasty

The end stage of a chronic middle ear infection may be a hole in the eardrum (tympanic membrane). If this hole impairs the conduction of sound in the middle ear, hearing may be severely reduced. Restoring the function requires a microsurgical procedure under general anaesthetic. Although the repair of the eardrum is successful in up to 85% of cases, it’s difficult to predict how much hearing you will regain after reconstruction of the ossicular chain. But as the operation usually has good results, it’s certainly worth a try. You will be off work for three to four weeks after being in hospital for up to four days.