Adenoidectomy is the removal of the adenoids. The adenoids are located in the back of the nose near the throat. They are thought to help with immunity against infections in children.

Anatomy of the Adenoids
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Reasons for Procedure

Adenoidectomy removes enlarged adenoids that cause problems. They can block the nasal passage, or the opening to the sinuses or middle ear. It may help treat repeated problems with:

  • Sinus infections
  • Ear infections
  • Fluid buildup in the ear

Possible Complications

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

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Dehydration
  • Regrowth of adenoid tissue
  • Vocal changes
  • Reaction to anesthesia

Your chances of problems may be higher for:

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

You may have:

  • An exam of the tonsils, throat, and neck
  • Blood tests
  • X-rays

In the days leading up to your procedure:

  • Talk to your doctor about all the medicines you take. You may need to stop take certain medicines up to 1 week in advance.
  • Do not eat or drink at least 8 hours before your procedure.


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

Description of the Procedure

The adenoids will be removed through the mouth or nose. A scalpel or other tool removes the adenoids. An electrical current can also be used. Gauze packs will be placed at the site of the prevent bleeding.

Radiofrequency ablation is a type of procedure that uses heat to destroy tissue. It can decrease 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 watched 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. Medicines are used to ease pain afterwards.

Average Hospital Stay

Sometimes, you can leave on the same day. Your doctor may choose to keep you overnight if there are problems.

Post-procedure Care

At the Care Center

During your stay, the healthcare staff will take steps to lower your chances of infection such as:

  • Washing their hands
  • Wearing gloves or masks

There are also steps you can take to lower your chances of infection such as:

  • Washing your hands often and reminding your healthcare staff to do the same
  • Reminding your healthcare staff 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
  • Swallowing problems
  • Ear or throat pain
  • Stiff or sore neck
  • Nasal speech

To help you heal faster:

  • Eat light meals of soft foods for the first several days.
  • Don't drink hot liquids.
  • Take prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection.
  • Take pain medicine as needed.
  • Don't swim.
  • Avoid intense activity.
  • Don't forcefully blow your nose.

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, pain, or pus from the nose or mouth.
  • Increased swelling or redness of the eyes.
  • Fever or chills.
  • Pain that can't be controlled with the medicines you were given.
  • Noisy breathing.
  • Breathing problems.

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


American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians


Canadian Society of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery

The College of Family Physicians of Canada


Adenoidectomy. Canadian Society of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: Accessed July 2, 2018.

All about adenoids. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: Updated April 2016. Accessed July 2, 2018.

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

Shehata EM, Ragab SM, Behiry AB, Erfan FH, 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: Updated April 6, 2012. Accessed July 2, 2018.

6/2/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance 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.

Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Donald W. Buck II, MD  Last Updated: 7/2/2018