What is an Adenoidectomy?

An adenoidectomy is a surgical procedure performed to remove the adenoid gland. The adenoid gland is at the back of the nasal cavity, right above and behind the soft palate.

The adenoids are part of the body’s immune system and help fight infection by trapping bacteria and viruses that enter through the nose.

In some cases, the adenoids may become infected or enlarged, leading to recurrent ear infections, sinusitis, and other problems. The procedure can help reduce snoring or difficulty breathing due to enlarged adenoids. The surgery is done under general anesthesia and can take up to an hour.

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Why would a doctor recommend an adenoidectomy?

Adenoids become enlarged or infected, blocking airflow, making it difficult for a child to breathe properly.

Surgery is for recurrent or chronic infections of the ears, sinuses, or other areas of the respiratory tract caused by enlarged adenoids. The enlarged adenoids block air passage making it difficult to breathe through the nose. It can cause snoring and sleep apnea.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Temporary difficulty breathing through the nose
  • Increased snoring or trouble sleeping
  • Reduced ability to smell and taste
  • Nasal congestion
  • Decreased saliva production
  • Muffled speech
  • Sore throat

A father and son in a playroomRisk Factors

The most common risk factors associated with an adenoidectomy include:

  • Reaction to anesthesia: General anesthesia can cause side effects such as dizziness, and in rare cases, a reaction that could lead to serious complications. 
  • Bleeding and infection: As with any surgical procedure, there is a risk of bleeding and infection after an adenoidectomy. Infections may require antibiotics or additional surgery to treat.
  • Voice changes: Adenoidectomies can result in changes to the vocal cords that can cause hoarseness and other voice changes.
  • Ear infections: Removing the adenoids can increase the risk of ear infections, as bacteria and other pathogens may have an easier time entering the Eustachian tubes. 
  • Hearing loss: In very rare cases, an adenoidectomy may cause hearing loss due to damage to the inner ear or Eustachian tube dysfunction.


Diagnosis is based on the patient’s symptoms and a physical examination.

A doctor will look in the back of the nose to assess the size of the adenoids and check for signs of infection. A doctor may also use an imaging test to check the size of the adenoids and any associated structures.

A nasopharyngoscopy or an endoscopic examination may be used to diagnose adenoidectomy.

A blood test may check for infection or other underlying medical conditions that could cause symptoms.


Doctors may recommend an adenoidectomy to relieve chronic ear and sinus infections. An adenoidectomy may be performed during surgery to insert ear tubes.

General anesthesia is used so the patient is asleep during the operation.

The adenoids are removed through the mouth. After surgery, patients may experience swelling, sore throat, and nasal congestion.

Pain medication helps manage any discomfort. Antibiotics are prescribed to prevent infection following surgery.

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