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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

Palatopharyngeal Arch



I am researching possible complications of having a tonsillectomy prior to surgery. I`ve read damage and/or removal can occur to the palatopharyngeal arch when the plane of dissection is not correct. How likely is this to occur? What causes damage to the pharyngeal wall? Are some surgical techniques more likely to cause damage to the arches?


It is very unlikely for there to be significant injury to the palatopharyngeal arch during tonsillectomy.  It is much more likely to be a problem when having surgery for obstructive sleep apnea.  In fact one of the usual risks that is listed on consent forms is that a person may have nasal regurgitation from overly aggressive removal of the palate.  Nasal regurgitation refers to food or liquid refluxing up into the nose during swallowing.

Tonsillectomy performed by a competent otolaryngologist should not result in significant damage to the palatal arches.  You will experience throat pain for 2-3 weeks.  It is common for adults to lose 5-10 pounds simply because you cannot eat as much as you are used to simply because it hurts to swallow.  Usually by the end of the second week, you are starting to eat a more normal diet.  By the three week point you are eating everything you want to eat.

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Response by:

Keith M Wilson, MD Keith M Wilson, MD
Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, Director of Head and Neck Division
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati