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What is an adenoidectomy?

Adenoidectomy

An adenoidectomy is the surgical removal of the adenoids. The adenoids are glands located in the throat behind the nose. They are not visible through the mouth.

The adenoids fight infection, but they can become infected and enlarged themselves. This can cause persistent breathing difficulty, sleep apnea (pauses in breathing during sleep), sinus infections, ear infections, and hearing loss. Your doctor may recommend an adenoidectomy for your child to treat these conditions.

The adenoids are largest in infants and younger children. Large adenoids are more likely to become infected. This is why doctors perform most adenoidectomies on younger children. Adenoids begin to shrink around age five and may disappear in time. It is rare for adults to have an adenoidectomy.

Your child may have less invasive treatment options. Consider getting a second opinion about all the treatment choices before your child has an adenoidectomy.

Other procedures that may be performed

Doctors often remove the tonsils (tonsillectomy) during the same procedure. The tonsils are also infection-fighting glands located in the throat. Tonsils can become infected and enlarged along with the adenoids and cause similar problems. 

Medical Reviewers: Daphne E. Hemmings, MD, MPH Last Review Date: Jun 30, 2013

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View Sources

Medical References

Adenoid Infections. University of Rochester Medical Center. http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/ear-nose-throat/conditions/adenoid.cfm. Accessed April 14, 2013.
Enlarged Adenoids. KidsHealth.org. http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/ears/adenoids.html#. Accessed April 14, 2013.
Tonsils and Adenoids. American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/tonsilsAdenoids.cfm. Accessed April 14, 2013.

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