Upper airway obstruction caused by bilateral giant tonsilloliths

J Chin Med Assoc. 2011 Jul;74(7):329-31. doi: 10.1016/j.jcma.2011.05.011. Epub 2011 Jun 24.


Tonsilloliths are rare dystrophic calcifications caused by chronic inflammation of the tonsils. They are usually small and occur on one side. Herein, we report a case involving a 75-year-old man presenting odynophagia and progressive dyspnea for days who was found by computed tomography image to have bilateral giant tonsilloliths. Hyperdensity lesions were found over the tonsillar fossa on both sides. Tonsillectomy was performed leading to immediate relief of symptoms. A review of relevant literature revealed that most patients with tonsilloliths are asymptomatic and need only conservative treatment. Severe symptoms such as dyspnea are extremely rare. Although tonsillolith can be easily diagnosed by computed tomography, otolaryngologists should be careful to differentiate this entity.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Airway Obstruction / etiology*
  • Calcinosis / complications*
  • Calcinosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Tonsillitis / complications*
  • Tonsillitis / diagnostic imaging