Doctors say tonsil surgery is safe, despite risks

MESA, AZ - A rare, but alarming case of a tonsillectomy gone wrong is raising concerns for parents who are considering tonsil surgery for their kids.

A teenager in Oakland is brain dead after complications with her tonsil surgery.

It's a reminder that all surgeries come with certain risks.

Doctors say this is a pretty common surgery that's performed every day. They say tonsil surgeries are considered safe.

Tonsillitis and sleep apnea are just a few reasons children and adults seek out tonsil surgery.

"No surgery is without risks. In my opinion, I never tell a parent that this just a 'simple tonsillectomy' for reasons such as this, because things can happen," said Dr. David Mendelson with the ENT Specialists of Arizona.

Despite risks like bleeding, infection and anesthesia, Dr. Mendelson says tonsil surgery is generally safe-- and the case out of California that left a teenager brain dead is very rare.

"What happened in this case was an extremely unfortunate event. And it is a tragedy. I don't know enough details about it, but what I can tell you, is the surgery itself is a tonsillectomy. It's being done numerous times every day of the week," he said.

Dr. Mendelson recommends monitoring your child after surgery for any unusual side effects like bleeding that could send him or her back to the hospital.

"Unfortunately bleeding is a symptom of not only all surgeries, but especially of tonsils. But like I said, it only happens about one to one and a half percent (of patients)," he said.

He says those risks are rare, and pain during recovery is a lot more common.

"It hurts unfortunately. And we do recommend rest. It will take them probably a week to start feeling better," he said.

Doctors tell us parents need to weigh the benefits versus the risks of tonsil surgery.

But in general, they say most kids do very well with it.

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