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What Happens During an Adenoidectomy?

An adenoidectomy is performed by a doctor who specializes in ear, nose, and throat surgery. It occurs in a hospital or outpatient surgical center under general anesthesia, meaning your child is put to sleep. The tonsils and/or adenoids can be removed through the mouth so no additional incisions are made except for where the tissues are removed.

Most patients can go home following the procedure; but, you should expect to be in the surgical center for around four or five hours after the surgery so that your child can be carefully monitored. Your doctor can give you more specific instructions as to what to expect based on your child's particular health needs.


Recovery From Adenoidectomy

After surgery, your child may feel nauseous until the anesthesia completely wears off. In the week following the adenoidectomy, your child may experience the following:

  • Sore throat: Your child's throat may be sore for seven to ten days following the procedure and eating can be uncomfortable.
  • Fever: Your child may have a low fever several days after the surgery. If the fever gets higher than 102 F, call the doctor. Seek medical attention if fever is accompanied by other symptoms such as lethargy, nausea, vomiting, headache, or stiff neck.
  • Mouth breathing: Mouth breathing and snoring may occur following the surgery, due to swelling in the throat. Breathing should return to normal once swelling goes down, usually 10 to 14 days after surgery. Seek medical attention if there is difficulty breathing.
  • Pain: Some throat and ear pain is normal for a few weeks following surgery. The doctor should prescribe medicine to help control pain.
  • Scabs in the mouth: Thick, white scabs will develop where the tonsils and/or adenoids were removed. This is normal and most scabs fall off in small pieces within 10 days after surgery. Do not let your child pick at the scabs. These scabs may also cause bad breath.

Here are some tips to ease your child's recovery following adenoidectomy:

  • Feed your child soft foods, such as scrambled eggs, Jell-O, soup, and Popsicles. However, do not let your child eat or drink milk products for the first 24 hours following surgery. After that, ice cream, pudding, and yogurt are OK.
  • Make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Have your child rest as much as possible for the first few days following surgery. Your child should be able to return to school once he or she can eat regular foods again, is no longer on pain medication, and is able to sleep soundly through the night.
  • Do not travel for two weeks following surgery.


Adenoidectomy: Warning Sign

If you notice bright red blood coming from your child's mouth or nose, call the doctor right away or take your child to the emergency room. This may indicate the scabs have come off too soon. Small spots of blood in the nose or in the saliva may be expected. Also, if breathing becomes so difficult that your child is wheezing, seek immediate medical care. This may be a sign of excessive swelling in the surgical area and should be looked at immediately.

Surgery should never be taken lightly. Make sure you have all your questions answered before making a decision and, if you have any doubts, seek a second opinion from another qualified doctor.


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on November 06, 2012

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