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What is Adenoid Surgery?

ent specialist and her patient in ent clinic

The adenoid glands are a part of the body that contributes to keeping the immune system intact to protect the body from illness. For a lot of people, the adenoids decrease in size at ages five to seven, or completely disappear during the teenage years. So, any issues that may arise are usually experienced by children. Any procedures, including adenoid surgery, which is a removal of the gland due to infections or tumors, are mostly carried out on children. However, once in a while, adults may occasionally experience adenoid issues and will need treatment.

What are adenoids?

As mentioned, adenoids are responsible for protecting the body against bacteria and viruses. They can be found in the mouth, just above the roof and behind the nose in the nasopharynx. They resemble small lumps of tissue, and air passes over them whenever you breathe.

Adenoids sometimes get swollen, producing symptoms such as hypertrophy, which affects speech, difficulty swallowing and sleeping, ear problems, sore throat and issues breathing through the nose. In that case, adenoid surgery may be recommended as treatment.

About the procedure

Adenoid surgery involves a procedure to take out the glands and is also referred to as adenoidectomy or adenoid removal. It is performed by an ENT doctor at the hospital. The patient is often administered an anesthetic before the surgery to numb them and put them to sleep. During the surgery, the ENT doctor uses a retractor to open the patient’s mouth wide enough to go in. A spoon-shaped tool is then used to remove the tissue. 

Adenoid surgery can be performed using several techniques. One method is electrocautery, where electricity is used to heat the tissue, remove it, and stop any bleeding. Coblation is similar to this technique but uses radiofrequency (RF) energy instead. The debride is also a cutting tool that can be used to remove the tissue.

After surgery, the patient will be kept in the recovery room until they are awake. If they are able to breathe properly, then they will be allowed to go home. The expected outcomes of adenoid surgery include better quality of life with improved or none of the symptoms of adenoid issues.

What are the risks?

Generally, it is very rare for adenoid surgery to develop complications, but there are a few to keep in mind. Firstly, there is the issue of possible excessive bleeding, which is very rare. Also, there are issues that arise from anesthesia use and the risk of infection. Changes in vocal quality could also occur, as well as the failure to sort out ear infections, underlying breathing problems and nasal drainage. In some cases, a few people may also experience bad breath, fever, nausea and vomiting.

When is adenoid surgery a useful solution?

Based on the symptoms, your ENT doctor will be the best person to tell if adenoid surgery is the answer. They will perform some examinations and determine the next course of action based on the results. They will then walk you through the process, informing you about what to expect and the cost, based on your needs.