Risks of an adenoidectomy 

An adenoidectomy is a low-risk procedure that rarely causes complications. It is a relatively common operation that is quick and easy to carry out.

When to contact your GP

Contact your GP immediately or go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department if your child experiences the following symptoms shortly after their surgery:

  • bright red bleeding from their mouth (for more than two minutes)
  • a fever
  • intense pain that is not reduced by painkillers – do not give aspirin to children under 16

Some of the possible problems are outlined below.

Minor problems after surgery

Following an adenoidectomy, some children will experience minor health problems. However, most of these are temporary and rarely require further treatment. They can include:

  • sore throat
  • earache
  • stiff jaw
  • blocked nose or nasal discharge
  • halitosis (bad breath)
  • change in voice (your child may sound like they are speaking through their nose)

Most of these symptoms will pass within one to two weeks. They should not last longer than four weeks. If your child is still experiencing side effects after this time, contact your GP for advice.

Infection

All surgery carries the risk of infection. The tissue in the area where the adenoids were removed may become infected with bacteria.

Following an adenoidectomy, your child may be prescribed antibiotics to help prevent an infection occurring.

Allergy to the anaesthetic

With any surgery that requires an anaesthetic, there is a risk of the patient experiencing an allergic reaction to the anaesthetic.

If your child has good general health, their chance of experiencing a serious allergic reaction to the anaesthetic is extremely small (one in 20,000). 

Around one in 10 children may experience some temporary symptoms, such as a headache, sickness or dizziness.

Bleeding

In a tiny number of cases, bleeding after the adenoids have been removed will be excessive (known as a haemorrhage), requiring additional treatment. This requires further surgery for cauterisation or to insert a dressing.

Less than one in 100 children will require emergency treatment to stop a haemorrhage. However, if it occurs, a haemorrhage has to be dealt with quickly to prevent your child losing too much blood.


Page last reviewed: 28/07/2014

Next review due: 28/07/2016