Adenoid removal

Alternative names
Adenoidectomy; Removal of adenoid glands

Adenoid removal, also called adenoidectomy, is the surgical removal of the adenoid glands from the area between the nasal airway and the back of the throat (nasopharynx). Adenoidectomy is frequently done in conjunction with surgical removal of tonsils (tonsillectomy).


While the patient is under general anesthesia, the ear-nose-throat (ENT) surgeon inserts a small instrument into the mouth to prop it open. The adenoid tissue can be removed with an instrument such as a curette or a microdebrider. Some surgeons may opt to cauterize the adenoids instead of removing the tissue. Bleeding is controlled with packing and cauterization.

The patient will remain in the recovery room after surgery until he is awake and able to breathe easily, cough, and swallow. Most patients are allowed to go home several hours later.


Adenoidectomy may be recommended when:

  • Enlarged adenoids are blocking the airway, which may be suspected if the child:       o Has enlarged adenoids       o Snores excessively       o Has trouble breathing through the nose (nasal obstruction)       o Has episodes of not breathing during sleep (sleep apnea)  
  • The child has chronic ear infections that:       o Interfere with child’s education       o Persist despite antibiotic treatment       o Recur 5 or more times in a year       o Recur 3 or more times a year during a 2-year period

Adenoidectomy may be recommended if the child has chronic or repeated bouts of tonsillitis.

The adenoids normally shrink as the child reaches adolescence, and adults rarely need adenoidectomy.


Risks for any anesthesia are:

  • Reactions to medications  
  • Breathing problems

Risks for any surgery are:

  • Bleeding  
  • Infection

Expectations after surgery

Most children have less trouble breathing through the nose and fewer and milder sore throats and ear infections after adenoidectomy.

In rare cases, adenoid tissue that has been removed may grow back, but this usually does not cause a problem.

Adenoidectomy is usually done as an outpatient procedure. Complete recovery takes 1 to 2 weeks. While healing, the child may have a stuffy nose, nasal drainage, and a sore throat. Soft, cool foods and drinks may help relieve throat discomfort.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised:

Diseases and Conditions Center

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.