I have a friend who has chronic tonsillitis. She has been offered to undergo tonsil washing (промывание лакун миндалин - Russian Wikipedia), a procedure apparently widely used in my country (Russia). The verbatim translation is "washing of the tonsillar lacunae" (is it "tonsillar crypts" in English?).

There are generally two approaches to this:

  1. Using a syringe with a special curved needle adapter and a blunt needle: the doctor puts the needle inside tonsillar lumina and pumps in the solution, which forces all the accumulated matter out.
  2. The accumulated detritus is sucked out under local anesthesia using vacuum suction.

The procedure is called to clear the bunged-up tonsillar lumina. However, my friend is unsure whether the benefits will outweigh the side effects. The doctor said it may leave minute scars on her tonsils.

I tried googling for "tonsil washing" in English and found only a couple of articles translated from Russian (example) and a mention of a "Tonsil washing device" on a German website. I also found a mention of a "Roeder method" in a 2014 review:

In his book “The Natural Tonsil Treatment” of 1918, Roeder describes a method that is used more often today than earlier in many ENT practices. The detritus-filled tonsils are suctioned with a glass suction cup, thereby removing the debris and massaging the tonsils at the same time, which (according to the current viewpoint) promotes lymphatic drainage [140]. Then the tonsils are brushed or sprayed with disinfectant solutions. However, this method is more difficult to apply in children because the suction procedure is quite painful.

Is "tonsil washing" used at all in the West? Is it supported by any clinical studies?

P.S. I've made a search in my local (Yekaterinburg, Russia) web forums, and found out that it's a quite common procedure here. Numerous people write that they underwent it.


Never heard of it and doubt that irrigation of infected tissue would help.

It's also not a listed treatment on the USA ent site http://www.entnet.org/content/tonsillitis

  • 1
    However, removal of tonsil stones is a procedure performed by ENTs. A web search also reveals that home tonsil stone removal is very common and there are even devices sold for that purpose. People also use Waterpiks to flush them out. Seems to be pretty much the same as the tonsil washing OP described. – Carey Gregory Feb 15 '18 at 18:34
  • Yes, I was aware of that but the q is about tonsillitis. – Graham Chiu Feb 15 '18 at 21:02
  • 2
    There is known correlation between tonsilloliths and tonsillitis. Keep in mind that -itis isn't just infection, it's inflammation. However I do not know i fhte evidence is convincing whether removing stones prevents inflammation/infection. But anecdotally I have cryptic tonsils myself and own a device ENT recommended for symptomatic stones - though gargling in the shower works just as well IMHO. – DoctorWhom Feb 16 '18 at 0:34
  • One last question - would irrigation of tonsillar lacunae be the most appropriate English-language term for this procedure, in case I'd want to translate the Wikipedia article into English? – CopperKettle Feb 17 '18 at 10:04

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