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Children's Hospital

Information about your child's surgery

You and your doctor have decided that your child needs an adenoidectomy. The following information will help you to have a better understanding of what to expect.

The adenoid pad is lymphoid tissue. It is one of the body's many sites producing antibodies that are important in the body's defense against infection. The adenoid pad is located at the back of the nasal airway above the soft palate. Everyone's adenoid pad enlarges to a degree, but some may enlarge enough to cause obstruction of the eustachian tube or nasal airway. This can lead to problems such as snoring or obstructive sleep apnea. As children enter adulthood, the adenoids get smaller; the decision for early removal will depend on your child's degree of adenoid pad enlargement and frequency of symptoms.

Research studies suggest that adenoid removal may reduce the incidence of middle ear fluid and infection. Indications for removal of the adenoid pad include evidence of enlargement that lead to obstruction of the nasal airway or recurrent sinus infections. An adenoidectomy may be performed with the second or third set of ear tubes. Children with obstructed airways during sleep (obstructive sleep apnea) may be candidates for removal of adenoids and/or tonsils.

Possible complications, as discussed with your child's physician, may include:

  • Anesthesia
  • Bleeding
  • Nasal speech (when the adenoid pad is removed, air or fluids may leak through the nose with speech or eating. This should correct itself in a few weeks, but if persistent, will be evaluated on a return visit.)

Pre-Op expectations

Your physician will advise you if current antibiotic therapy should continue. Under most circumstances there is no blood work required. You will be with your child until he or she goes to surgery.

Recovery in the hospital

  • Before your child can be discharged to home, he or she must be tolerating fluids by mouth without nausea or vomiting.  An IV will remain in place until this occurs.
  • Nausea and/or vomiting is a common complaint after surgery and is due to the anesthesia or swallowing of blood during or after surgery.  Medication is available if vomiting should be a problem.
  • Your child may have a sore throat.  Tylenol may be given every 4 hours as needed for pain.
  • Clear liquids, such as jello, apple juice and popsicles are encouraged to help maintain hydration.  The diet will be advanced as tolerated by your child.
  • Upon discharge, you will be given your child's prescription for an antibiotic.

Home recovery

  • Diet: A liquid diet can be advanced to soft solids and then to a regular diet as tolerated, unless your child also had a tonsillectomy.
  • Fluid intake: Inadequate fluid intake is the most common cause of dehydration and dryness of the mouth. Dryness of the throat will make swallowing more difficult and increase throat discomfort.
  • Bad breath: Until the surgery site is healed, your child may have bad breath. Brushing teeth regularly will help reduce this odor. Strong mouthwashes are not recommended.
  • Neck pain and headaches: Occasional neck pain and headache may occur due to irritation of neck muscles in the area of the surgery.Voice Quality: A change in voice may be noted due to an increase in air flow through the nasal passages.
  • Bleeding: A pinkish discharge is normal up to two days after surgery. If discharge continues, becomes bright red or the amount is excessive, you should call the office.
  • Activity: Your child should be able to return to normal activity as tolerated.

Follow-up visits

Within 4 to 6 weeks after surgery your child will be scheduled for a return appointment. 


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