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
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Reasons for Procedure

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

Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have an adenoidectomy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Infection
  • Adenoid tissue can sometimes re-grow
  • Bleeding
  • A permanent change in voice
  • Reaction to anesthesia

Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Previous adverse reaction to anesthesia
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Submucous cleft palate

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 medicines—You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:
  • 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

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.

Adenoidectomy

Adenoidectomy
The doctor uses medical tools to remove the adenoids through the mouth.
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Radiofrequency ablation is a type of procedure that uses heat to destroy tissue. It may be used to reduce the volume and size of 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 prevents pain during the procedure. Pain after the procedure is not uncommon. Your doctor may prescribe pain medicine.

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

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 medicine as needed.
  • Avoid swimming and rough or vigorous exercise.
  • Avoid forceful nose blowing.
  • Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.

Call Your Doctor

After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • A sudden increase in the amount 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 eyes
  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Pain that cannot be controlled with the medicines you have been given
  • Uncontrolled nausea or vomiting
  • Noisy or difficult breathing

In case of an emergency, CALL 911.