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Complications of the Adenoidectomy Procedure

written by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 12/31/2010

The adenoids consist of a single clump of tissue at the back of the nose. In some cases, a medical condition makes it necessary to remove the adenoids. Learn the complications of the adenoidectomy procedure to better understand the risks.

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    Procedure Indications

    The three major indications for adenoidectomy are chronic ear infections, chronic accumulation of fluid in the ears, blockage of the nasal passageway and chronic sinus infections. In some cases, the adenoids get large enough to cause ear problems. These ear problems can result in temporary hearing loss, discomfort, feelings of fullness and pain in the ear. If the adenoids grow too large, they can block the nasal passageway and cause snoring, sleep apnea and mouth breathing. Enlarged adenoids also make it possible for bacteria to accumulate and cause recurrent sinus infections.

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    Surgical Procedure

    During an adenoidectomy, a doctor uses one of several procedures to remove the adenoid tissue. While the patient is under general anesthesia, the doctor may use a curette to shave the adenoid tissue. In other cases, the doctor uses a special cauterization device to remove the tissue. The use of the cauterization device leads to less bleeding than with other forms of adenoidectomy. This procedure usually takes no more than 15 minutes to complete.

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    Adenoidectomy Complications

    Any surgical procedure has risks, and the adenoidectomy is no different. Some of the adenoidectomy complications that can occur include bleeding, infection and adverse reactions to the anesthesia used during the procedure. Some of the possible side effects of general anesthesia include allergic reaction, nausea and vomiting.

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    Recovery

    Patients who undergo this procedure typically have short recovery periods and many do not even need pain medication. For those who do, acetaminophen can reduce the pain associated with this procedure. Some patients experience bad breath for 7 to 10 days after adenoidectomy and others have neck stiffness or soreness for a short time. Some surgeons limit physical activity after this procedure, but others do not. Someone who has had an adenoidectomy usually sees a doctor for follow up in two to four weeks after the surgery. This helps to ensure that the patient heals properly and has no adverse outcomes.

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    Tonsillectomy/Adenoidectomy

    The tonsils consist of two clumps of tissue located on either side of the throat. The lower edge of each piece of tissue hands beside the tongue at the back of the throat. Some people who need the adenoidectomy procedure also undergo removal of the tonsils at the same time. Some surgeons use a conservative approach and only remove the tonsils if they are enlarged or causing a blockage or obstruction. Other surgeons remove the tonsils during adenoidectomy even if the tissue is not causing any chronic problems. The combination procedure results in a more difficult recovery than adenoidectomy alone, as it causes throat pain and difficulty eating. After the combination procedure, your doctor may advise you to drink plenty of liquids and only eat things like gelatin, pudding and soup broth. This will help you recover from the procedure without increasing the amount of pain you feel.