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Adenoidectomy

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

Nucleus Image
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Reasons for Procedure    TOP

Adenoidectomy is usually done to remove enlarged adenoids that are causing a blockage in the nasal passage. It may also be used to treat long-term sinus infections and recurrent ear infections.

Possible Complications    TOP

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

  • Infection
  • Re-growth of adenoid tissue
  • Bleeding
  • 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    TOP

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, such as:
    • Anti-inflammatory drugs
    • Blood thinners
    • Antiplatelets
  • Order x-rays —to assess the size of the adenoids

Do not eat or drink anything six 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    TOP

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    TOP

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

How Long Will It Take?    TOP

Less than 45 minutes

How Much Will It Hurt?    TOP

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

Average Hospital Stay    TOP

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    TOP

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    TOP

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 have been given
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting
  • Noisy or difficulty breathing

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

RESOURCES:

American Academy of Otolaryngology
http://www.entnet.org
American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngology
http://www.aspo.us

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Society of Otolaryngology
http://www.entcanada.org

References:

Adenoidectomy. Canadian Society of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed June 25, 2013.
Adenoidectomy patient information. Duke University Health System. DukeHealth.org website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated October 5, 2010. Accessed June 25, 2013.
All about adenoids. Kids Health.org website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
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 website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated April 6, 2012. Accessed June 25, 2013.
6/3/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
...(Click grey area to select URL)
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.
Last reviewed June 2013 by Marcin Chwistek, MD; Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 01/23/2014