Symptoms of Tonsil Mass

Tonsil Enlargement or Tonsil Mass, Tonsil Ulcers, Tonsillitis

The tonsils that are located in the back of the mouth are referred to as the palatine tonsils. Tonsils that are both enlarged to the same extent (symmetrical enlargement) are usually enlarged owing to infection (tonsillitis). When one tonsil is significantly enlarged compared to the other tonsil (asymmetrical enlargement) investigation is required to determine the cause. This is especially urgent if there are other symptoms such as pain in the enlarged tonsil and/or a lump in the neck.

Sometimes a tonsil may have a lump growing from its surface, or there may be ulceration on the surface of the tonsil.   This is another situation in which urgent investigation is required.

How do we evaluate tonsil enlargement or tonsil masses?

People with tonsil enlargement or a tonsil mass are evaluated by taking a thorough medical history and by performing an examination of the upper airway, including endoscopy. Standard endoscopy of the throat is called laryngoscopy, in which an endoscope (a slim tube with a camera on the end)is passed through the noseusing local anaesthetic to examine the airway. A biopsy (a sample of tissue) of the tonsil(s) is performed to determine the cause. Sometimes only a small part of the tonsil is biopsied, while in other situations, the entire tonsil(s) are removed – this is called tonsillectomy. Additional investigations such as CT scanning may be required.

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