What to expect after your child has adenoid surgery.

Adenoids are tonsil tissue in the back of the nose or very high in the throat. It typically is not possible to see adenoids through the mouth or nose. Enlarged adenoids can contribute to snoring and difficulty breathing through the nose, restless sleep or poor quality of sleep. Enlarged adenoids also can be associated with frequent ear infections, fluid buildup in the ear or recurrent nasal or sinus infections. At Nationwide Children’s Hospital, we treat thousands of children each year for enlarged adenoids.

Why does my child need an adenoidectomy?

If your child has enlarged adenoids associated with the above symptoms, it may be recommended that he or she have an adenoidectomy. Adenoidectomy sometimes may be combined with a tonsillectomy if the tonsils are enlarged and also thought to be contributing to your child’s snoring and sleep problems. Other procedures, like ear tube placement, also may be combined. An adenoidectomy may be recommended if your child’s sleep study shows obstructive sleep apnea.

What is an adenoidectomy?

Adenoidectomy is a surgery where the adenoids are surgically removed through the mouth. There are no incisions or scars on your child’s face. Your child will be fully asleep under anesthesia in the operating room. The adenoids are removed with specialized dissecting tools to remove only the enlarged adenoids from the back of your child’s nose and throat. Frequently, after surgery, the child’s nasal obstruction and snoring are improved within 1-2 weeks after an adenoidectomy.

What should I expect on the day of my child’s adenoidectomy?

Your child will have surgery at one of outpatient surgery centers located at the main campus or at our Westerville Surgery Center. The surgery will last for 20-30 minutes.

Before and after surgery, our pediatric nurses will prepare your child for surgery, assist the pediatric ENT surgeon during surgery and care for your child after the adenoidectomy

Anesthesiology: Your child will be placed under general anesthesia by a pediatric anesthesiologist. Our subspecialty-trained pediatric anesthesiologists regularly provide pediatric anesthesiology services for patients undergoing surgical procedures.

Surgery: A pediatric ENT surgeon will perform surgery after your child is asleep in the operating room by going through your child’s mouth and using specialized instruments to remove the adenoids from the nose and throat. Only the adenoids will be removed during the surgery, unless the surgery will be combined with other procedures.

What should I do for my child after an adenoidectomy?

You and your child may be allowed to go home the same day or may stay in the hospital overnight for monitoring. Your child may have a sore throat or neck pain after surgery, although this is typically very mild and lasts for a few days. Typically, children can eat and drink normally without any restriction after the surgery. They should be encouraged to drink lots of cold liquids though for the next 1-1.5 weeks until they are healed. Your child’s ENT surgeon will discuss activity recommendations and recommendations for returning to school after surgery.

For your child’s pain after surgery, the doctor will recommend treatment with liquid medications. If your child cannot swallow liquids at home, they may become dehydrated and need to return to the hospital for evaluation and or to get fluids through the veins. They could even need to be admitted to the hospital briefly until their ability to swallow improves enough that they can eat comfortably at home.

What should I watch for after an adenoidectomy?

Parents must be watchful of bleeding from the mouth and nose where the adenoids were removed. Bleeding from these areas is not normal after surgery. Should your child have bleeding from their mouth and/or nose after adenoidectomy, he or she should be evaluated as soon as possible at Nationwide Children’s Hospital or at a local hospital.

It is normal for your child to have bad breath for about one to two weeks after surgery. Your child also may have some pain in the ear that is actually from the site where the adenoids were removed. This pain typically resolves within a week. Your child may have low-grade fevers, typically 101.5 or less, for several days after surgery. If the fever is higher than 101.5 or does not come down with medication, it may be a sign of dehydration or infection. If this is the case, please contact your child’s ENT surgeon for more guidance.

Frequently, snoring is improved or resolved in children within one month after an adenoidectomy. If your child still snores, your child’s ENT physician may wish to further evaluate. Your child’s adenoidectomy surgery also may be combined with ENT procedures during to help with snoring.

Sometimes after an adenoidectomy a child will have change to his or her speech. This is usually temporary, but should this occur, your child’s ENT surgeon will evaluate your child within one to two months after surgery.

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