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Adenoid removal

Definition

Adenoid removal is surgery to take out the adenoid glands. The adenoid glands sit behind your nose above the roof of your mouth. Air passes over these glands when you take a breath. 

The adenoids are often taken out at the same time as the tonsils (tonsillectomy). 

Adenoid removal is also called adenoidectomy. The procedure is most often done in children. 

Alternative Names

Adenoidectomy; Removal of adenoid glands

Description

Your child will be given general anesthesia before surgery. This means your child will be asleep and unable to feel pain.

During surgery:

  • The surgeon places a small tool into your child’s mouth to keep it open.
  • The surgeon removes the adenoid glands using a spoon-shaped tool (curette). Or another tool that helps cut away soft tissue is used.
  • Some surgeons use electricity to heat the tissue, remove it, and stop bleeding. This is called electrocautery. Another method uses radiofrequency (RF) energy to do the same thing. This is called coblation.
  • Absorbent material, called packing material may also be used to control bleeding.

Your child will stay in the recovery room after surgery. When your child is awake and can breathe easily, cough, and swallow, you will be allowed to take your child home. This is usually a few hours after surgery.

Why the Procedure Is Performed

A doctor may recommend this procedure if: 

  • Enlarged adenoids are blocking your child’s airway. Symptoms in your child can include:
  • Your child has chronic ear infections that:
    • Cause him or her to miss school a lot
    • Continue despite using antibiotics
    • Happen 5 or more times in a year
    • Happen 3 or more times a year during a 2-year period
    • Lead to fluid in the ears that causes hearing loss and does not go away on its own

Adenoidectomy may also be recommended if your child has tonsillitis that keeps coming back.

The adenoids normally shrink as children grow older. Adults rarely need to have them removed.

Risks

Risks of any anesthesia are:

Risks of any surgery are:

Before the Procedure

Your doctor or nurse will tell you how to prepare your child for this procedure.

A week before the surgery, do not give your child any medicine that thins the blood unless your doctor says so. Such medicines include aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).

The night before the surgery, your child should have nothing to eat or drink after midnight. This includes water.

You will be told what medicines your child should take on the day of surgery. Have your child take the medicine with a sip of water.

After the Procedure

Your child will go home on the same day as surgery. Complete recovery takes about 1 to 2 weeks.

Follow instructions on how to care for your child at home.

Outlook (Prognosis)

After this procedure, most children:

  • Breathe better through the nose
  • Have fewer and milder sore throats
  • Have fewer ear infections

In rare cases, adenoid tissue may grow back. This does not usually cause problems.

References

Wetmore RF. Tonsils and adenoids. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 375.

Wooley AL, Wiatrak BJ. Pharyngitis and adenotonsilar disease. In: Cummings CW, Flint PW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2010:chap 196.


Review Date: 11/9/2012
Reviewed By: Seth Schwartz, MD, MPH, Otolaryngologist, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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