Adenoid removal surgery is also called an adenoidectomy, and it is a commonly performed surgery in kids. Adenoids are the glands located in the roof of the mouth, behind the place where the nose connects to the throat. The adenoids produce antibodies, or white blood cells, that help fight infections. They usually shrink after puberty and may disappear by adulthood. Surgeons often perform adenoid and tonsil (tonsillectomy) removal simultaneously. This is called an adenotonsillectomy. Chronic and recurrent throat and respiratory infections often cause inflammation and infection in both the glands. Inflammation of the adenoids is called adenoiditis.
Adenoidectomy is a commonly performed surgery with a low risk of complications. It can be safely done in children aged older than 3 years. Most side effects and complications of surgery usually resolve on their own or with treatment. Some possible side effects and risks of adenoidectomy include:
Why are the adenoids removed?
Frequent throat and respiratory tract infections in childhood often cause the adenoids to enlarge. Such adenoids can cause obstruction of breathing in a child, especially at night. It can also block the Eustachian tube opening. Eustachian tubes connect the middle ear to the back of the nose (nasopharynx). Blocked Eustachian tubes may cause recurrent ear infections. Enlarged adenoids can also cause dentition problems and snoring in children.
What are the signs and symptoms of enlarged adenoids?
Swollen adenoids block the airways and can cause the following symptoms:
- Recurrent ear infections
- Throat pain
- Difficulty breathing through the nose
- Mouth breathing
- Adenoid facies, which is a result of long-term adenoid hypertrophy causing persistent sleep apnea (mouth breathing and snoring) during childhood. It may be associated with the development of certain facial features called the adenoid facies. The characteristic facial appearance consists of the following:
- Underdeveloped thin nostrils
- Short upper lip
- Prominent upper teeth
- Crowded teeth
- High-arched palate
- Underdeveloped maxilla (bone that forms the upper jaw)
- Adenoid facies is also typical of recurrent upper respiratory tract allergies, which present with
- Dennie’s lines: These are horizontal creases under the lower eyelids.
- Nasal pleat: This is a horizontal crease just above the tip of the nose produced by the recurrent upward wiping of nasal secretions with the hands.
- Allergic shiners: These are dark shadows under the eyes produced by chronic venous congestion.
How is adenoidectomy performed?
Adenoidectomy is performed under general anesthesia. The adenoids are usually removed through the mouth or using an endoscope (a camera with light source) through the nose. There are no incisions (surgical cuts) made externally; hence, there will not be any scars, and no stitches are necessary. The child may be discharged the same day or the following day after the surgery. Medications to reduce pain and swelling and prevent infection would be prescribed. Complete recovery after an adenoidectomy usually takes 1-2 weeks.
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