The tonsils and adenoids are lymph glands in the back of the nose and throat. They trap bacteria and form helpful antibodies to prevent infection. If tonsils or adenoids become so overgrown that they block your child’s airway, or if they become a chronic source of the infection they were designed to prevent, then it is better to remove them.
Adenoidectomy is most commonly recommended for children with chronic mouth breathing, nasal congestion, sinusitis, or otitis media. The adenoids are located in the back of the nose, above the soft palate, and between the Eustachian tubes. They cannot be easily seen except with specialized endoscopes or mirrors. Large adenoids are a common cause of mouth breathing in children under 6 years old, and may lead to orthodontic problems due to altered growth of the palate and upper jaw. Large adenoids contribute to snoring in small children and may cause sleep apnea – a pattern of interrupted breathing during sleep. Adenoidectomy is proven to reduce sinus and ear infections in children aged 3-6.
Adenoidectomy is performed under general anesthesia. Children under 12 are sedated by mask before the intravenous catheter is placed. Once your child is asleep, the anesthetist will protect the airway with a small plastic tube in the throat. Operating with a mirror through the mouth, the surgeon will remove the adenoids using an electrode that seals the blood vessels as it removes the tissue. There is little to no bleeding. A local anesthetic will be injected to reduce postoperative pain. The surgery should take less than 30 minutes and your child should be ready for discharge within an hour.
After Adenoidectomy your child should go home and rest for the day. Adenoidectomy is much less painful than tonsillectomy and there is usually no difficulty swallowing. Tylenol should be sufficient for postoperative soreness and your child should be comfortable to resume full activity within 2-3 days. A mild fever (less than 100 degrees F) and bad breath may occur during the first week or two. Salt water (saline) nose drops may help to wash away any odor-forming bacteria. Follow-up should be scheduled at our office in 2-3 weeks.