Adenoidectomy: What is it? Indications, Procedure, Potential Risks, Complications and Post-operative Care

It is the surgical removal of the adenoid. This surgery is also called adenoid removal.

Adenoids are glands located in the throat behind the nose, they are above and behind the roof of the mouth, where the nose and mouth meet, although they are not visible through the mouth.

Adenoids work with the tonsils to help defend the body against infection. However, in some cases, they can cause respiratory problems and must be removed.

Adenoids will begin to shrink between the ages of 5 and 7 in children. Adenoids generally disappear completely by the time children reach adolescence. They can become swollen or enlarged due to infections.

Some children can also be born with abnormally large adenoids. When adenoids become enlarged, they can cause breathing problems.

Adenoids are larger in infants and young children, the larger ones are more likely to become infected.

This is why most adenoidectomies are performed on younger children. Adenoids begin to shrink around the age of five and can disappear in time.

It is rare for adults to have an adenoidectomy. There are other less invasive treatment options.

A second opinion on all treatment options should be considered before choosing an adenoidectomy.

Doctors often remove the tonsils (tonsillectomy) during the same procedure.

The tonsils are also glands that fight localized infections in the throat.

The tonsils can become infected and enlarged along with the adenoids and cause similar problems.


Adenoid hypertrophy or chronic adenitis can cause significant problems related to craniofacial morphology in the growing child, excessive snoring, obstructive sleep apnea, and poor air intake.

Adenoid tissue removal is performed to improve quality of life and reduce the negative sequelae associated with these problems.

In general, it is a well-tolerated procedure with a fairly low risk profile, and most patients have a significant improvement in symptoms after the operation.

Because adenoid hypertrophy is often associated with tonsil hypertrophy, the tonsils and adenoids are usually removed together, in a procedure called tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, respectively.

The doctor may recommend an adenoidectomy when the adenoids become infected or enlarged and cause persistence of:

  • Excessive and loud snoring due to enlarged adenoids that block the passage of air for breathing.
  • Difficulty breathing through the nose due to enlarged adenoids.
  • Recurring ear infections, possibly leading to hearing loss.
  • Sinus infections, also known as sinusitis.
  • Sleep apnea or trouble breathing during sleep.

Doctors also remove adenoids to treat cancer or a tumor that affects the adenoids.

Adenoidectomy should be considered if other treatment options that carry less risk of complications have not been effective.


Adenoids are considered a mass of lymphoid tissue placed on the posterior nasopharyngeal surface. They are anatomically linked to Waldeyer’s ring, which includes the palatine and lingual tonsils.

Adenoidectomy refers to the surgical removal of this tissue, which is performed to treat a variety of disease processes.

Although adenoidectomy suggests complete removal of adenoid tissue, most surgical techniques affect only superficial adenoid tissue.

Potential risks of adenoidectomy

There are general factors that increase the risk of complications during surgery and include:

  • Obesity: generally, the higher the degree of obesity, the greater the surgical risk
  • Smoking: the greater the history of smoking, the greater the surgical risk.
  • Advanced age.
  • Poorly controlled diabetes.
  • Kidney malfunction.
  • Liver problems
  • Hypertension.
  • Malnutrition with mineral and vitamin deficiencies.
  • Problems with lung function
  • History of bleeding disorders.
  • Illness such as autoimmune disorders or chronic infections.

Complications of an adenoidectomy

As with all surgeries, an adenoidectomy carries risks and possible complications.

Complications can become serious and life threatening in some cases.

They are complications that can develop during surgery or recovery.

Complications from adenoidectomy surgery include:

  • Reaction from the anesthesia, such as an allergic reaction or breathing problems.
  • Bleeding, which can cause shock.
  • Infection.

After an adenoidectomy the patient may present:

  • Earache.
  • Pain or difficulty swallowing, but this usually goes away after a few days.
  • Re-growth of the adenoids, although this is very rare.
  • Sore throat, which usually goes away after a few days.

Most often, children recover quickly after an uncomplicated adenoid removal. Surgery is safe.

Postoperative care

The following postoperative care is recommended after an adenoid removal procedure:

  • Stay at rest for the first few days after the procedure.
  • Then, you should proceed slowly to resume regular daily activities, which can help with a faster recovery.
  • Using ice packs and consuming ice cream to help ease any minor pain.
  • Reduce speech for the first few days after the procedure.
  • Avoid any situation that may cause throat discomfort, such as coughing, throat clearing.
  • Take stool softeners to prevent constipation.
  • Take antibiotic medications to help fight or prevent infections, as directed by the doctor, the course of prescribed medication should be completed, as recommended by the doctor.
  • Avoid all activities that are physically strenuous for about 6 weeks after surgery.
  • A soft diet and the consumption of a clear liquid are recommended immediately after surgery. Avoid foods that are hot or difficult to digest. The patient can slowly proceed to a regular diet after some time.