How an adenoidectomy is performed 

An adenoidectomy (surgery to remove the adenoids) is usually performed by an ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon. The operation is quick and carries few risks.

Before the operation

If your child has had a cold or sore throat in the week before the operation, it is important to let your ENT surgeon know.

If the infection is associated with a high temperature and a cough, the adenoidectomy may have to be postponed for a few weeks to ensure your child has fully recovered and to reduce their risk of developing any complications as a result of the surgery.

How long will an adenoidectomy take?

An adenoidectomy usually takes around 30 minutes but your child will need to stay up to an hour in the recovery ward.

Adenoidectomies are normally carried out as day cases and your child will usually only need to stay in hospital for a few hours after the operation before being allowed home.

However, if your doctor feels it is necessary, or if your child has not fully recovered, they may need to stay in hospital overnight.

How are the adenoids removed?

An adenoidectomy is carried out under general anaesthetic, so your child will be asleep during the procedure and will not feel any pain.

Your child's mouth will be propped open and once the adenoids have been located, the surgeon will remove them either by scraping them away using an instrument known as a curette, or by applying heat using a diathermy instrument. A diathermy instrument produces high-frequency electrical currents that burn the adenoids.

After your child's adenoids have been removed, the diathermy instrument may be used to stop the bleeding or a pack made out of gauze is applied to the skin to stop any bleeding. When this is removed, the operation is complete.

Read more about recovering from an adenoidectomy.


If your child has large tonsils or has had severe or frequent bouts of tonsillitis (when the tonsils become infected with a virus or bacteria), it might be recommended that the tonsils are removed at the same time as the adenoids. This means your child will only need to have one procedure, reducing the risk of complications.

Read more about tonsillectomy (removal of the tonsils).

An adenotonsillectomy is when the tonsils are removed at the same time as the adenoids. The operation is a quick procedure and carries very few risks.


If your child has had persistent glue ear which affects their hearing, grommets may be inserted. An adenoidectomy may be performed at the same time.

Grommets are tiny ventilation tubes inserted into your child's ear through a small cut in their eardrum. They help drain away any fluid that builds up in the middle ear.

Page last reviewed: 28/07/2014

Next review due: 28/11/2016