Adenoids, like tonsils are lymphoid tissues. They are situated at a slightly higher level than tonsil, at the back of the nose, whereas tonsils are at the back of the mouth. Lymphoid tissues are centres which produces infection-fighting cells. However after the first year of life, both the adenoids and tonsils do not serve any great function as we have different areas of the body to serve that purpose. Adenoidectomy is the operation to remove adenoids.
The commonest reason for the operation is treating obstructive sleep apnoea, where the adenoids are removed together with the tonsils to improve airway and breathing during sleep. It is also commonly performed in conjunction with grommets insertion, as this will prolong the effect of grommets. Other reasons for adenoidectomy could be when enlarged adenoids causes nasal blockage.
Does it hurt
There might be some mild discomfort, but adenoidectomy rarely has any significant pain.
After the operation
Normally you will be observed on the ward over a period of 4 hours. You should be able to eat and drink as when comfortable to do so. There couldbe symptoms of nasal congestion and nasal discharge for the first few days. Not uncommonly there might be unpleasant odour due to burnt tissue mixing with snot. This will settle with time. If there are signs of fever, unwell and coloured nasal secretions, antibiotics might be needed.
How long do I have to be off work
It is advisable to have a period of convalescence of 1 week after the operation. Physical exercise or strenuous activities should be refrained. Likewise social gatherings and activities should be kept to a minimum to reduce the risk of acquiring infection.
The main complication for adenoidectomy is post-operative infection or haemorrhage. Infection can be treated with antibiotics. Bleeding from the back of the nose could present as a nose bleed or coming out from the mouth. Medical attention should be seeked immediately should there be any signs of haemorrhage. The risk of this is extremely low, and is normally associated with infection.
Is there any alternative treatment
There are no alternative treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea. For mild or moderated adenoidal enlargement, steroid drops could be tried over a period of time, as it reduces inflammation of the lining of the nose. However it doesn’t achieve any significant reduction of the bulk of the adenoidal tissue.