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Definition

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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Reasons for Procedure

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.

Possible Complications

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • 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:

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

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.
  • Order x-rays —To assess the size of the adenoids.

Do not eat or drink anything for at least 6 hours prior to the procedure.

Anesthesia

General anesthesia is used. It will block any pain and keep you asleep through the procedure.

Description of 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.

Radiofrequency ablation 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.

Immediately After Procedure

You will be monitored in a recovery room until the anesthesia wears off.

How Long Will It Take?

Less than 45 minutes

How Much Will It Hurt?

Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.

Average Hospital Stay

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.

Post-procedure Care

At the Care Center

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
At Home

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

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.

Revision Information

  • American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery

    http://www.entnet.org

  • American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngology

    http://www.aspo.us

  • Canadian Society of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery

    http://www.entcanada.org

  • Health Canada

    http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

  • Adenoidectomy. Canadian Society of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: http://www.entcanada.org/public2/patient8.asp. Accessed June 25, 2013.

  • Adenoidectomy patient information. Duke University Health System website. Available at: http://www.dukehealth.org/services/otolaryngology/care%5Fguides/adenoidectomy%5Fpatient%5Finformation. Updated October 5, 2010. Accessed June 25, 2013.

  • All about adenoids. Nemours Kids Health website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/kid/ill%5Finjure/sick/adenoids.html#. Updated May 2013. Accessed June 25, 2013.

  • Gigante J. Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. Pediatr Rev. 2005;26(6):199-203.

  • Paradise JL, Bernard BS, Colborn DK, Janosky JE. Assessment of adenoidal obstruction in children: clinical signs versus roentgenographic findings. Pediatrics. 1998;101(6):979-986.

  • Shehata EM, Ragab SM, Behiry ABS, Erfan FA, Gamea AM. Telescopic-assisted radiofrequency adenoidectomy: a prospective randomized controlled trial. Laryngoscope. 2005;115(1):162-166.

  • Tonsils and adenoids. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/tonsilsAdenoids.cfm. Updated April 6, 2012. Accessed June 25, 2013.

  • 6/3/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.