What is Adenoid Surgery?

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  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 09 January 2020
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Adenoid surgery is a medical procedure in which the adenoids — small patches of tissue located between the throat and the nasal passages — are surgically removed. This procedure, also known as an adenoidectomy, is usually used to treat chronic throat infections or impaired sleep breathing. It is most commonly performed on children and is often executed in tandem with a tonsillectomy. In most cases adenoid surgery is an outpatient procedure, although patients normally require several days of home recovery.

Similar to the tonsils, the adenoids function primarily to capture germs as they enter the airway, thus preventing bodily infection. In some cases, however, the adenoids themselves become infected and swell as a result. When adenoidal swelling becomes chronic, it often causes prolonged throat pain and earaches, and sometimes inhibits the sufferer’s natural ability to breathe while sleeping. As this condition is most common in children, it is often recognized by a parent who overhears his child snoring heavily or struggling to breath during sleep. Adenoid surgery is often recommended to patients who present frequent adenoidal infections.


When a patient reports for adenoid surgery, he is first given a general anesthetic which puts him to sleep for the duration of the procedure. The surgeon then opens the patient’s mouth and uses a surgical instrument to cut away the adenoids. As many patients with adenoidal issues also suffer from chronic tonsillitis, it is common for a surgeon to also remove the tonsils at this time. Once these tissues have been removed, the surgeon usually seals the wounds with heat, a process known as cauterization. The entire procedure typically lasts around 30 minutes, but the patient must then spend several hours in supervised recovery to ensure that his anesthetic has worn off and that he is not bleeding or breathing irregularly.

Once released from the hospital, an adenoid surgery patient usually requires several days of home rest before he is fully recovered. Often, he will at first experience a great deal of tenderness or pain at the wound site. His physician may prescribe pain medication to alleviate discomfort. In most cases, he will be able to eat only soft, bland foods like soups and pureed fruit. While cold foods like ice cream may at first provide a pleasant numbing sensation, it should be noted that dairy products cause the saliva to thicken, which can potentially aggravate the wound.

Most patients recover fully within a week. Afterward, they are likely to experience fewer sore throats and earaches. They may also find they have more energy, as they should no longer suffer from adenoid-related breathing trouble during sleep.



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