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What is an Adenoidectomy?

A human head with the adenoids in red and yellow.
People who develop ear infections as a result of adenoiditis may be referred to an ENT doctor.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 22 October 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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An adenoidectomy is a surgical procedure in which the adenoids are removed. These lumps of lymphoid tissue located just behind the nose help to protect and develop the immune system in children, gradually shrinking away to become vestigial organs in adults. In some cases, the adenoids become chronically inflamed, leading to difficulty breathing, speech impairments, and hearing impairments. In these instances, an adenoidectomy may be recommended. Tonsillectomies sometimes include adenoid removal as well.

If the adenoids become especially swollen, they can impede the Eustachian tubes which are used to drain fluid from the ears, leading to chronic ear infections and ear aches. Persistent blockages can cause hearing damage or hearing loss, two very undesirable outcomes. The adenoids can also obstruct breathing if they become swollen, and in some people, they may cause speech impediments. A doctor will usually recommend an adenoidectomy after examining a patient and reviewing his or her medical history.

Typically, adenoidectomies are pediatric procedures, because children are most likely to develop inflamed adenoids. Children between the ages of one and six are most prone to developing inflamed adenoids, although people of all ages can potentially require an adenoidectomy. The surgery takes around 15 to 30 minutes, with the surgeon going in through the nose or throat, depending on the situation.

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A general anesthetic is used for an adenoidectomy to reduce pain and psychological distress. A number of procedures are used to keep general anesthesia as comfortable and safe as possible, so anesthesia-related complications are usually rare with an adenoidectomy. The surgery is usually performed by an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist. After the procedure is over, the patient will need to drink plenty of fluids, and soft foods are recommended for the first week or so of adenoidectomy recovery. Dairy should be avoided, as it can promote mucus production, and spicy foods are also discouraged, as they can be very painful when they come into contact with the surgical site.

After this throat surgery, patients will usually take antibiotics to prevent the onset of infection. The surgeon may also request a follow up appointment to confirm that the adenoids were totally removed and that the area has healed nicely. Fortunately for patients, the mouth heals very rapidly, so recovery is typically short. Most people experience no long-term problems as a result of having no adenoids, and some kids enjoy talking about their surgery at show-and-tell.

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