Adenoidectomy

What are the adenoids?

Adenoids are lumps of tissue at the back of the nose.

What is the function of the adenoids?

Adenoids are part of the body's "Early warning system". They detect bugs in the nose.

What problems can occur in the adenoids?

There are two main problems that may affect your child's adenoids:

  1. The adenoids become too big
  2. The adenoids become infected, long term

What happens when adenoids become too big?

Big adenoids can block the nose. This can result in your child breathing only through the mouth and snoring at night. Watch your child during the day and night to see if he or she breathes with the mouth open!

Big adenoids may also block the tube between the back of the nose and the ear (the Eustachian tube). If this tube becomes blocked, fluid may become trapped in the ear, causing hearing problems and recurrent ear infections.

What happens if the adenoids become infected?

Short-term infections of the adenoids are common and will affect most children at some stage.

Long-term infection of the adenoids may result in a more permanent collection of bugs. Children with long term adenoid infections often get recurrent sinus and ear infections and take multiple courses of antibiotics. The antibiotics only temporarily suppress the bugs. As soon as the antibiotics are stopped, the infection comes back!

How are big or infected adenoids diagnosed?

See your GP if you think your child has big or infected adenoids. Your GP will ask about your child's symptoms and examine your child. An Xray may be ordered to look at the size of the adenoids.

Your GP cannot see your child's adenoids directly as they are at the back of the nose.

Dr Singh can use a special flexible camera that is passed through your child's nose (after using a special numbing spray) to look directly at your child's adenoids.

How are big or infected adenoids treated?

See your GP if you think your child has big or infected adenoids. Treatment options include:

  • Do nothing - If the symptoms are not severe, treatment may not be necessary
  • Long term antibiotics - These may eventually clear the adenoid infection
  • Referral to Dr Singh for adenoid removal (Adenoidectomy)

When should adenoidectomy be performed?

Adenoidectomy is usually performed when the adenoids become so big that they affect your child's breathing.

Adenoidectomy may also be performed to prevent recurrent ear infections or long-term fluid in the ear (glue ear)

Adenoidectomy may also be performed to prevent recurrent sinusitis.

These are the general guidelines - your child is an individual and the decision as to when to undergo adenoidectomy is based on your child's individual circumstances, your choice and Dr Singh's recommendation.

Wait! The adenoids are part of the "Early warning system". If we remove the adenoids, will my child get more infections?

No.

The adenoids are only 1 part of the "Early warning system". There is a whole ring of tissue around the nose and throat that performs exactly the same function as the adenoids. Removing the adenoids has no effect on the "Early warning system". Millions of adenoidectomy operations have been performed around the world and there is no increase in infections in children who have their adenoids removed.

How are the adenoids removed?

The adenoids are removed while your child is asleep under a general anaesthetic. The adenoids are removed through the mouth - there are no cuts made on the outside.

Where is the operation performed?

In the interests of your child's safety, Dr Singh performs children's adenoidectomies at Westmead Private Hospital. Westmead Private Hospital is one of Australia's leading private hospitals. It is part of the Westmead healthcare campus, the largest Hospital complex in the Southern Hemisphere. Westmead Private Hospital is also affiliated with the University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine, Australia's oldest and largest Medical School.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

Yes. Adeonidectomy is an "Elective" procedure, meaning it is your choice to have the operation performed. Alternatives to surgery include:

  • Do nothing. Your child may keep getting problems related to the adenoids.
  • Long-term antibiotics. Sometimes, a long course of antibiotics for many weeks or months may reduce the risk of adenoid problems.

Are there any risks to surgery?

Yes. Everything we do in life has risks. Even something as simple as crossing the street has risks... but we still cross the street. Dr Singh will explain the risks of your child's operation and provide you with an information pamphlet that explains the risks in detail. If you have any questions about risks, ask Dr Singh during your consultation.

What should I do next?

See your GP if you think your child has adenoid problems (blocked nose with mouth breathing, snoring, recurrent ear or sinus infections). Your GP will provide a referral to see Dr Singh if surgery is required.