Adenoidectomy in Children


Adenoidectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the adenoids from behind the nose. This is a relative common procedure performed on children who suffer from enlarged adenoids. As the adenoids swell up, children may suffer from serious ear and sinus infections. Adenoidectomies take less than 30 minutes to perform and recovery is very mild.

The Facts

Adenoids are located behind the nose inside of the throat and are made out of lymph tissue. Adenoids can’t be seen by looking down a child’s throat. Some children will experience problems with enlarged adenoids that become infected. Although adenoids can help the body stay healthy by capturing dangerous bacteria, experts believe they serve little purpose after the age of 3. Adenoids begin to decrease in size by 5 years of age and continue to shrink until they have almost disappeared.


Children with certain symptoms related to enlarged adenoids may be good candidates for an adenoidectomy. When the adenoids become enlarged, they can restrict the nasal passageway. This can cause children to snore or breathe more frequently through their mouth. Swollen adenoids can also restrict the Eustachian tube, which can cause severe ear infections. Some children affected by enlarged adenoids may develop nasally speech.


An adenoidectomy lasts between 20 and 30 minutes. General anaesthesia is typically used for this procedure. Due to the location of the adenoids, doctors commonly rely on a mirror to see the surgical site. A tool such as a curette is then used to remove the adenoid from behind the nose. Bleeding is stopped with the help of cautery devices before the child is awakened from anaesthesia. Adenoidectomies are generally performed as an outpatient surgery. Children will typically remain at the hospital for a minimum of two hours before being discharged.


Recovery from an adenoidectomy is fairly painless for most children. Some children will find that acetaminophen relieves the mild pain they may be experiencing. Bad breath is a common side effect of an adenoidectomy that can last for up to 10 days. This can be caused by a mild infection of the surgical site. There are no food restrictions for children recovering from an adenoidectomy and they are generally not limited in their activity. Children will have a postoperative check-up approximately three weeks after the adenoidectomy has been performed.


Adenoids tend to shrink in size as children grow into adulthood. In many cases, the symptoms a child might have suffered will eventually go away as the adenoids reduce in size. Surgery may seem unnecessary if the adenoids are not causing major problems. Children with enlarged adenoids may also have problems with their tonsils. Doctors may suggest removing both the adenoids and tonsils in this particular situation.

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