What are the risks and potential complications of adenoidectomy? 

As with all surgeries, an adenoidectomy involves risks and potential complications. Complications may become serious and life threatening in some cases. Complications can develop during surgery or recovery.

General risks of surgery 

The general risks of surgery include: 

  • Anesthesia reaction, such as an allergic reaction or breathing problems
  • Bleeding, which can lead to shock
  • Infection and septicemia, which is the spread of a local infection to the blood

Potential complications of adenoidectomy

Complications of adenoidectomy include:

  • Ear pain
  • Pain or difficulty when swallowing, which typically goes away after a few days
  • Re-growth of the adenoids, although this is very rare
  • Throat pain, which usually goes away after a few days

Reducing your risk of complications

You can reduce the risk of some complications by making sure your child follows the treatment plan and:

  • Following activity, dietary and lifestyle restrictions and recommendations before surgery and during recovery
  • Notifying your child’s doctor immediately of any concerns, such as bleeding, fever, or increase in pain
  • Taking medications exactly as directed 
  • Telling all members of the care team if your child has any allergies

How do I prepare for my child’s adenoidectomy? 

You are an important member of your child’s healthcare team. The steps you take before surgery can improve your child’s comfort and outcome. 

You prepare your child for surgery by: 

  • Answering all questions about your child’s medical history and medications. This includes prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, herbal treatments, and vitamins. It is a good idea to carry a current list of your child’s medical conditions, medications, and allergies at all times.
  • Getting preoperative testing as directed. Testing varies depending on your child’s age, health, and specific surgery. Preoperative testing may include blood tests, radiologic imaging of the adenoids, and other tests as needed.
  • Ensuring that your child does not eat or drink before surgery as directed. Surgery may be cancelled if your child eats or drinks too close to the start of surgery because your child can choke on stomach contents during anesthesia.
  • Ensuring that your child stops taking medications exactly as directed. This may include not taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and blood thinners.
  • Helping your child to lose excess weight before the surgery by providing a healthy diet and exercise plan, as directed by the doctor
  • Talking with your child about what to expect during and after the surgery. Allow your child to express feelings. Tell your child that he or she will have a sore throat for a few days after the surgery. Reassure your child that medications will make him or her comfortable. 
  • Tell your child that the surgery will improve comfort and health, such as improving breathing or reducing earaches or infections.  

Questions to ask your doctor

Facing surgery can be stressful for both parents and children. It is common for parents to forget some of their questions during a doctor’s office visit. You may also think of other questions after your child’s appointment. Contact your doctor with concerns and questions before surgery and between appointments.

It is also a good idea to bring a list of questions to your preoperative appointments. Questions can include:

  • Why does my child need an adenoidectomy? Are there any other options for treating my child’s condition?
  • How long will the surgery take? When can we go home?
  • What restrictions will my child have after the surgery? When can my child to return to school and everyday activities?
  • What kind of diet can my child eat after surgery?
  • What kind of assistance will my child need at home?
  • What medications will my child need before and after the surgery? 
  • How will you treat my child’s pain?
  • When should we return for follow-up?
  • How should I contact you? Ask for numbers to call during and after regular hours.

What can I expect after the adenoidectomy?

Knowing what to expect will help make your child’s road to recovery as smooth as possible.