Adenoidectomy is the surgical removal of the adenoid for reasons which include difficulty breathing through the nose, prolonged infections, or persistent earaches.
What is an Adenoid Gland?
Adenoid glands are part of the immune system and help defend the body against viruses and bacteria. They are considered a vestigial organ in adults (no purpose). Adenoids are a mass of lymphoid tissue – they look like small lumps and are located above the roof of the mouth between the back of the nose and the throat, often affecting speech and breathing.
Adenoids are usually completely gone by teenage years, beginning to shrink between 5-7 years of age. Although adults do not often require an adenoidectomy as the adenoids have shrunk and are unlikely to cause problems, some do continue to experience problems, and so surgery may be the recommended course of treatment.
Adenoids may become swollen or enlarged following infection (viral or bacterial) or after an allergic reaction. Usually swollen adenoids cause mild discomfort and treatment is unnecessary. However, in some cases it can cause severe discomfort and affect day to day life. Adenoids may need to be removed if you are suffering from any of the following:
- Breathing problems
- Difficulty breathing through the nose leading you to breathe through your mouth which may cause problems such as cracked lips and a dry mouth.
- Frequent complications and infections in ears
- Repeated middle ear infections can have serious implications such as hearing loss.
- Trouble sleeping
- You may begin to snore or suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea which involves irregular breathing
- Recurring sinusitis causing a constantly runny nose, pain in the face and nasally speech
- Sore throat and difficulty swallowing
The doctor will first ask about symptoms that are affecting your ear, nose, and throat, and feel the neck along the jaw; they will likely carry out a further physical examination. The doctor will use a mirror and insert a small, flexible telescope (known as an endoscope) through the nose to view the adenoids. Depending on what your doctor finds during the physical examination, they may advise for a blood test to check for infection or in some cases, an X-ray of the throat may be necessary.
The doctor may recommend an adenoid removal if you have lingering ear or throat infections that do not respond to antibiotic treatment, occur more than 5 or 6 times a year or impede upon your daily activities such as work and education.
If the doctor suspects you may be suffering from an infection, they may prescribe different sorts of medicine. Nasal steroids (a liquid that is sprayed into the nose) might be recommended to help reduce swelling in the adenoids prior to suggesting removal.
The adenoids are removed during an adenoidectomy and usually performed by an ENT surgeon (ear, nose and throat) taking approximately 30 minutes. The procedure will be performed under general anaesthetic so you will be asleep the whole time and will not feel any pain. Following the surgery, you will need to stay in recovery until the effects of the anaesthetic have worn off.
As the mouth and throat bleed more easily than other areas of the body, your doctor may book in a blood test to find out whether your blood is appropriately clotting and if your red and white blood count is normal. Preoperative blood tests help prevent excessive bleeding during and following the procedure.
In the week leading up to the surgery do not take any medication that can affect blood clotting such as ibuprofen and aspirin. If you are unsure, contact your doctor to check.
After administering the anaesthetic, the doctor will place a small tool into the mouth to ensure it remains open during the procedure, enabling them to remove the adenoids. A small incision is made to remove them, or they can be cauterised which involves sealing the area with a heated device. Sealing and packing the area with absorbent material such as gauze, will help control the bleeding during and following the procedure, meaning stitches are generally unnecessary.
Adenoidectomies are generally carried out as a day case procedure so you will be able to go home the same day. However, in some cases you may have to stay in overnight. This can be judged on whether you are eating and drinking normally, your reaction to the anaesthetic and if you feel well enough. Generally, you will not need longer than a week away from work or school.
Recovery from Adenoidectomy
The anaesthetic may make you feel sleepy; you will be monitored after the surgery to make sure you are recovering routinely. Once the surgeon is satisfied, you will be able to go home. You will need someone to drive you though as general anaesthetics can take a number of hours to fully wear off.
It is normal for you to experience a sore throat for 2-3 weeks following an adenoidectomy. It is essential to drink lots of fluids to avoid dehydration and help alleviate any pain you may be experiencing. Avoid spicy, hot, hard or crunchy food for the first couple of weeks and ensure you consume plenty of cold liquids to help soothe your throat. You should avoid smoky environments and people with coughs or colds. Rest at home and avoid taking part in lively activity for up to 1 week following surgery.
A check-up appointment should be made for 10-14 days following the procedure.
Complications from Adenoidectomy
An adenoidectomy is a routine, low risk operation and complications are uncommon. However, as with any type of surgery there is always a risk of complications such as:
- Bleeding and blood clots
- Infection at the surgery site
- Bad reactions to the anaesthetic (allergic reactions)
There is also a small chance that a tooth could be chipped or knocked out during the operation but this is rare.
After an adenoidectomy occasionally you will suffer with minor health problems. These are mostly temporary and typically do not require further treatment. They include:
- Tender throat
- Stiff jaw
- Congested nose or nasal discharge
- Bad breath
- A nasally sounding voice
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty brushing your teeth
Most of these symptoms will pass within a few weeks, however, if they persist, notify your doctor.
Outlook after Adenoidectomy
Adenoidectomies have a reputation of producing excellent results. Following the procedure, you should be able to:
- Breathe better through your nose
- Suffer with fewer and milder sore throats
- Experience fewer ear infections
In extremely rare cases, adenoid tissue can grow back. However, most of the time this does not cause problems and can be removed if necessary.
At One Healthcare we can book you in to see a specialist Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon, usually within 48 hours, for an initial consultation. Adenoidectomy is available at One Ashford Hospital in Kent and One Hatfield Hospital in Hertfordshire.
You can use your private medical insurance or pay for your Adenoidectomy treatment. We offer competitive, fixed price packages as well as the ability to spread the cost of your treatment over a number of months. If you are using your health insurance, please contact your insurer first for approval and let them know you’d like to be treated at either the One Ashford Hospital or One Hatfield Hospital.
Why One Healthcare
- Modern purpose-built hospital opened in March 2016 (Ashford) December 2017 (Hatfield)
- Fast access to diagnostics including MRI, X-ray and Ultrasound
- Private, spacious, en-suite rooms
- Specialist Physiotherapy and nursing teams
- Little or no waiting time
- ‘Ultra clean air’ theatres
- Freshly prepared food
- Calm, dignified experience