Palatine tonsil

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Inflamed or enlarged tonsils ( tonsillae palatinae )

The tonsilla palatina ( palatine tonsil ) is a paired, almond-shaped, lymphatic organ between the anterior and posterior palatal arch that belongs to the lymphatic ring of the pharynx . It occurs in humans and most mammals , but it is not developed in pigs . The palatine tonsil , like all tonsils , serves to ward off pathogens .


The palatine tonsils lie on both sides in the niche between the anterior and posterior palatal arch , the so-called almond bay. They are laterally surrounded by a connective tissue capsule. They consist of one to two centimeters thick, lymphatic tissue and are covered by multi-layered, uncornified squamous epithelium . The surface of the tonsil is deepened by crevice-shaped depressions called crypts . They reach deep into the almonds and give them their rugged appearance. In these depressions, small amounts of food residues that are colonized by bacteria accumulate. On the side of the tonsils there are also leukocytes and flaked epithelial cells . This mixture, which is called detritus , collects in the cavities and this is where immune contact takes place between the body and the outside world. This is why the tonsils are sometimes referred to as " physiological wounds". The crypts are regularly emptied so that new food remains with new bacteria can be pushed in and the white blood cells can “get to know” the new bacteria. This emptying is sometimes visible in the form of white tonsillar plugs ( tonsil stone ).

The excretion of these almond plugs is often wrongly interpreted by laypeople as an inflammation of the tonsils . Detritus alone, without further symptoms such as pain, feeling sick or fever, is not a sign of inflammation, but completely physiological.

Blood supply

The palatine tonsil is supplied by the following arteries :

These arteries can be injured in a tonsillectomy and cause profuse bleeding.

The venous drainage occurs via the pharyngeal plexus ( plexus venosus pharyngeus ) into the vena jugularis interna .

The nerve supply is provided by the glossopharyngeal nerve (IX. Cranial nerve , its branches run over the palatine nerves to the palatine tonsil) and maxillary nerve .


Purulent inflammation of the tonsils

Main article: tonsillitis

An inflammatory enlargement of the tonsils narrows the throat, causing sore throat as difficulty swallowing, may be accompanied by fever and is colloquially referred to as the common cold with sore throat. Viruses are often responsible for this; then no specific therapy is possible, only symptomatic. In the case of bacterial inflammation, antibiotic therapy may be indicated. Inflammation of the tonsils is also known as tonsillar angina (often incorrectly abbreviated to angina ).

Angina tonsillaris can either be a localized inflammation or occur as a symptom of general diseases (for example diphtheria , scarlet fever , typhoid , syphilis ) and also affect other tonsils of the lymphatic pharynx.

In the case of recurrent purulent inflammation or an acute accumulation of pus ( abscess ), a tonsillectomy , the surgical removal of the tonsils, may be necessary.