Adenoidectomy – Procedure & Risks

This procedure is often performed at the same time a person's tonsils are removed.

An adenoidectomy is surgery to remove the adenoids.

The adenoid glands are patches of tissue that sit at the back of the nasal passage.

They help stop bacteria and viruses from entering the body through the nose.

If the adenoids are too large, they can cause symptoms such as:

  • Difficulty breathing through the nose or mouth
  • Snoring
  • Noisy breathing
  • Sleep apnea
  • Sinus problems
  • Persistent ear infections or other infections

An adenoidectomy may relieve these problems.

The surgery is typically performed only if other, more conservative treatment methods aren't effective.

The procedure is more common in children. It's often done at the same time as a tonsillectomy (removal of the tonsils).

The Adenoidectomy Procedure

An adenoidectomy is usually performed at a hospital or outpatient surgery center by an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor.

The procedure typically takes less than 45 minutes.

You'll be under general anesthesia during the surgery, which means you won't be conscious and won't feel any pain.

A surgeon will place a small tool into your mouth to keep it open.

Then, the surgeon will remove the adenoid glands using surgical tools.

Some surgeons use electricity or radiofrequency (RF) energy to heat and remove the tissue.

Surgical packing materials, such as cotton, may be used to control bleeding.

The surgeon can get to the adenoids through your mouth, so there's no need to cut the skin on the outside of the body.

Before an Adenoidectomy

Tell your doctor about any medicines you take before having an adenoidectomy. You may need to stop taking drugs such as Advil (ibuprofen) or aspirin a week before the procedure.

You'll be told not to eat or drink anything the night before your surgery.

Ask your doctor if you should take any of your medicines on the day of your procedure.

After an Adenoidectomy

You'll probably be able to go home the same day as your procedure.

Your doctor will tell you what pain medicines to take.

You may want to eat light and cool foods, such as yogurt and applesauce, during the first day or so following the procedure. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids.

The adenoid area should heal naturally. It will take about one to two weeks to recover completely.

You may notice a change in the sound of your voice after the surgery. This is temporary and will usually only last a couple of months.

Call your doctor right away if you experience:

  • Severe or bright red bleeding from the nose or mouth (some light nasal bleeding is OK)
  • Fever higher than 101.5 degrees F
  • Persistent or sharp pain or headache
  • Increased swelling or redness of the nose or eyes

Risks of Adenoidectomy

Potential risks of an adenoidectomy include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Adenoid tissue that grows back

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