The adenoids (lymphatic tissue in the back of the throat), along with the tonsils, comprise the Waldeyer ring.
Adenoidectomy may be recommended when enlarged adenoids are blocking the airway, which may be suspected if the child:
has trouble breathing through the nose (nasal obstruction)
has episodes of not breathing during sleep (sleep apnea)
Adenoidectomy may be recommended if the child has chronic ear infections that:
interfere with child's education
persist despite antibiotic treatment
recur 5 or more times in a year
recur 3 or more times a year during a 2-year period
Adenoidectomy may be recommended if the child has chronic or repeated bouts of tonsillitis.
The adenoids normally shrink as the child reaches adolescence and adenoidectomy is rarely needed after reaching the teenage years.
While the child is deep asleep and pain-free (using general anesthesia), a breathing tube is inserted into the child's mouth and throat. A small instrument is inserted into the mouth to prop it open. The adenoid tissue is removed and bleeding is controlled.
Adenoidectomy is usually done as an outpatient procedure. Complete recovery takes 1 to 2 weeks. While healing, the child may have a stuffy nose, nasal drainage, and a sore throat. Soft, cool foods and drinks may help relieve throat discomfort.
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.