Fast Facts

Don’t take medications or supplements that cause bleeding for 1 week before and after surgery

Take 24 hours off work and driving after surgery and take a week off sport after surgery

adenoidectomy

What is this for and is it effective?

The adenoid is like a tonsil. It is on the back wall of the throat, behind the nose and above the palate.

It is part of the immune system, helping to recognize and start the immune response to viruses and bacteria that are inhaled through the nose. It is important in the first year of life and can then be removed without affecting the immune system.

A large or inflamed adenoid can cause blocked nose, snoring or middle ear problems. Reducing the size of the adenoid can relieve these problems.

For middle ear disease, adenoidectomy is usually combined with insertion of middle ear ventilation tubes.

For snoring, adenoidectomy is usually combined with tonsillectomy. It is effective for snoring when combined with tonsillectomy and where there are no other persistent causes for snoring.

The operation is effective for blocked nose when other causes of blocked nose like rhinitis are also under control.

See also Tonsillectomy (removing the tonsils)

Frequently Asked Questions

What could go wrong? Is there a chance that surgery could make me worse?

Temporary side effects:   

Less than 1:1700 people have bleeding after surgery. Bleeding is usually minor and settles on its own, but sometimes an operation to stop bleeding is needed.

Permanent side effects: 

1:500 children have change in voice. This is possible if the soft palate has not formed properly. The soft palate is the soft part of the roof of the mouth. The soft palate closes the opening between the nose and throat during swallowing (so food goes down into the stomach, not up into the nose) and during speaking (so sound comes out through the mouth, not the nose).  A large adenoid can hide an abnormal palate. Once the adenoid is removed, if the palate doesn’t work well, words come through the nose and are harder to understand. The surgeon checks the voice and palate movement before recommending surgery. If the palate is not normal, the surgeon may choose not to reduce the adenoid. If the palate is abnormal and voice is worse after surgery, an operation to help the palate to function (palatoplasty) may be needed.

Could I need more surgery or treatment in the future?

Yes, 5:100 children need more treatment. The adenoid can’t be completely removed without damaging the wall of the throat. It is possible for the residual adenoid to enlarge again. This is more common in children under four years of age. The adenoid can be reduced again if needed.

What are the alternatives to surgery? Are they appropriate for me?

For mild problems, exploring non-surgical treatments first is wise. Your surgeon will aim to treat other causes of blocked nose, snoring and ear disease  before recommending surgery, for example, using a steroid nose spray for allergic rhinitis. Waiting for 3-6 months can be helpful; the adenoid can enlarge after an upper respiratory tract infection then reduce in size over time and the adenoid tends to shrink with age.

What if I choose not to have surgery?

For mild ear disease, it may be ok not to have surgery. For severe ear disease, snoring or blocked nose there may be long term consequences of not having treatment. For example, dental development can be affected by persistent severe blocked nose.

See should I have surgery for more information.

How should I prepare for surgery?

Stop using any supplements and medications that increase bleeding (like Nurofen) one week before surgery and follow the fasting instructions provided by the hospital.  For more information see preparing for surgery.

When will I come into hospital? How long will the operation take? How long will I stay in hospital?

You will come into hospital on the day of surgery.  The operation takes 20 minutes.  You will go home around 4 hours after surgery.

If you are having another procedure at the same time (for example tonsillectomy or middle ear ventilation tubes) you will need to read the information about these procedures as well.

How long will I need off work/school/sport?

You need 24 hours off work, sport and driving after a general anaesthetic. You will need up to seven days off physical work or school and 7 days off sport.

Will I be awake or asleep for the operation? What kind of anaesthetic will I have?

Children and adults always have a general anaesthetic for this procedure.

See anaesthesia for more information.

How will I feel after surgery?

You will have little mild throat pain. Most people need paracetamol only a few times in the first day after surgery. 1:30 people feel sick or vomit after surgery.

What do I need to do to recover well?

If you need to blow your nose, blow gently. Avoid sport or vigorous activity for 7 days. If you use a nasal spray for rhinitis, you can continue to use this after surgery. If you have continuous bleeding from the nose or mouth attend your nearest hospital emergency department.

When will I see the surgeon?

The surgeon will check on you in the recovery room then see you in the office one month after surgery.

What should I do if I need help or advice?

You can ring the surgeon or practice nurse during business hours on 55605411. For non emergency advice outside business hours, ring the nurse at the hospital where you had surgery. For urgent care outside business hours, attend your nearest emergency department.

Click here for information about Dr Clancy’s on call schedule.

Is there any more information specific to my situation?

Your surgeon will take into consideration your work, sports/hobbies, support at home and other health problems as well as past reactions or complications with anaesthesia and surgery.

Your surgeon will answer any specific questions you ask.

After adenoidectomy

You need 24 hours off work, school and driving after a general anaesthetic and one week off sport or physical work while you are healing.

What do I need to do to recover well?
  • Eat and drink as normally as possible. The better you eat, the better you heal.
  • Sleep and rest with the head elevated for 1-2 days after surgery.
  • Avoid drugs that increase bleeding like Aspirin and Nurofen, for one week. Paracetamol is safe to use.
  • Avoid sport and vigorous work for 7 days to reduce the risk of bleeding after surgery.
  • It is safe to gently blow your nose.
  • You can safely restart Nasonex or saline sprays the day after surgery if they were prescribed for rhinitis.
What is normal? How will I feel after surgery?
  • You will have little mild throat pain. Most people need Panadol only a few times in the first day after surgery.
  • 1:30 people feel sick or vomit after surgery.
  • You may have mild blood stained or watery discharge from the nose for a few days after surgery then there should be no discharge or bleeding at all.
What is not normal?

Contact your surgeon or attend your nearest Emergency Department if there is:

  • vomiting for more than a few hours,
  • severe pain or
  • bright bleeding from the nose or mouth that doesn’t stop within 5 minutes.
When will I see the surgeon?

The surgeon will:

  • Check on you in the recovery room.
  • Then see you in the office one month after surgery. You will be given an appointment card today.

The practice nurse will ring to check on you in 7 days.

What should I do if I need help or advice?

You can ring the surgeon or practice nurse during business hours on 55605411. For non emergency advice outside business hours, ring the nurse at the hospital where you had surgery. For urgent care outside business hours, attend your nearest emergency department.

Click here for information about Dr Clancy’s on call schedule.

Is there any more information specific to my situation?

The surgeon will include any extra information specific to you.

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