Adenoidectomy is the surgical removal of the adenoids. Adenoids are made of tissue located in the back of the nose near the throat. They are thought to be involved in developing immunity against infections in children.
Anatomy of the Adenoids
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Adenoidectomy is usually done to remove enlarged adenoids that are causing sleep apnea due to a blockage in the nasal passage. It may also be used to treat long-term sinus infections and recurrent ear infections.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
- Dehydration from difficulty taking fluids
- Re-growth of adenoid tissue
- A permanent change in voice
- Reaction to anesthesia
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:
Your doctor will likely do the following:
- Physical exam of the tonsils, throat, and neck
- Blood test
Review your medications—You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure.
x-rays—To assess the size of the adenoids.
Do not eat or drink anything for at least 6 hours prior to the procedure.
is used. It will block any pain and keep you asleep through the procedure.
The adenoids will be surgically removed through the mouth. A scalpel or another type of tool will be used to remove the adenoid tissue. An electrical current can also be used. Sometimes, the adenoids are removed through the nose. Gauze packs will be placed at the site of the procedure to prevent bleeding.
is a type of procedure that uses heat to destroy tissue. It may be used to reduce the volume and size of the adenoids. This method often has less bleeding. It also seems to cause less pain.
You will be monitored in a recovery room until the anesthesia wears off.
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
It may be possible to leave on the same day as the procedure. Your doctor may choose to keep you overnight if there are complications.
During your stay, the care center staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
- Washing their hands
- Wearing gloves or masks
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
- Washing your hands often and reminding your healthcare providers to do the same
- Reminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks
Recovery will take 7-14 days. After the procedure, you may have:
- Light bleeding
- Nasal stuffiness or drainage
- Sore throat
- Bad breath
- Difficulty swallowing
- Ear or throat pain
- Stiff or sore neck
- Nasal speech
To help relieve some discomfort and speed recovery:
- Eat light meals of soft foods for the first several days.
- Avoid hot liquids.
- Take prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection.
- Take pain medication as needed.
- Avoid swimming and rough or intense exercise.
- Avoid forceful nose blowing.
Call your doctor if any of these occur:
- A sudden increase in the amount of bleeding from the mouth or nose; If your child is swallowing a lot, check the back of their throat with a flashlight to look for blood
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, or any discharge from the nose or mouth
- Increased swelling or redness of the eyes
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Pain that cannot be controlled with the medications you were given
- Noisy or difficulty breathing
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Adenoidectomy. Canadian Society of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at:
Accessed June 25, 2013.
Adenoidectomy patient information. Duke University Health System website. Available at:
http://www.dukehealth.org/services/otolaryngology/care_guides/adenoidectomy_patient_information. Updated October 5, 2010. Accessed June 25, 2013.
All about adenoids. Nemours Kids Health website. Available at:
http://kidshealth.org/kid/ill_injure/sick/adenoids.html#. Updated May 2013. Accessed June 25, 2013.
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Updated April 6, 2012. Accessed June 25, 2013.
6/3/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
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Last reviewed May 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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