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Adenoid removal

  • Definition

    Adenoid removal is surgery to take out the adenoid glands. These glands are located between the airway you breathe into through your nose and the back of your throat. Often, adenoid removal is done at the same time as a tonsillectomy, surgery to remove the tonsils. Adenoid removal is also called adenoidectomy.

    Most adenoidectomies are done on children.

    Alternative Names

    Adenoidectomy; Removal of adenoid glands


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

    • The surgeon will insert a small instrument into your child’s mouth to prop it open.
    • The surgeon will remove the adenoid glands with a curette (a spoon-shaped medical device) or a microdebrider (a medical device used to cut away soft tissue).
    • Some surgeons may cauterize the adenoids (seal the tissue using a heated device) instead of removing them.
    • Bleeding will be controlled with packing material, which will absorb blood, and with cauterization.

    Your child will stay in the recovery room after surgery until they are awake and can breathe easily, cough, and swallow. Most patients can go home several hours after this surgery.

    Why the Procedure Is Performed

    Adenoidectomy may be recommended when:

    • Enlarged adenoids are blocking your child’s airway. This may be suspected if your child:
      • Snores a lot
      • Has trouble breathing through their nose (nasal obstruction)
      • Has episodes of not breathing during sleep (sleep apnea)
    • Your child has chronic ear infections that:
      • Interfere with school attendance
      • Persist even with 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 your child has chronic or repeated bouts of tonsillitis.

    The adenoids normally shrink as children reach adolescence. Adults rarely need adenoidectomy.

    Before the Procedure

    A week before the surgery, do not give your child any medicine that makes it hard for their blood to clot unless their doctor tells you to. Two of these are ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and aspirin.

    Ask your the doctor what medicines your child should take on the day of surgery.

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

    The day of the surgery, give your child the medicine they are supposed to take 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.

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    Most children breathe through their nose better and have fewer and milder sore throats and ear infections after an adenoidectomy.

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