Adenoidectomy and adenotonsillectomy for ear infections

When children have repeat ear infections (chronic otitis media) or fluid behind the eardrum (otitis media with effusion), doctors often do surgery to take out the adenoids (adenoidectomy) or to take out the adenoids and tonsils (adenotonsillectomy).

Adenoids are sometimes taken out because they can swell during an infection and play a part in blocking fluid from passing out of the middle ear. This fluid buildup can lead to ear infections or hearing problems. Doctors don't recommend removing just tonsils as a treatment to solve middle ear problems.1

Expert guidelines suggest that these surgeries are only considered after other treatments, such as antibiotics or tubes in the ears, have not prevented ear infections or fluid behind the eardrum from returning. Hearing loss is also a factor when deciding next treatment steps for children with ongoing middle ear problems.

Doctors consider these surgeries based on each child's health history.1 Parents play a vital role in deciding whether their children should have these surgeries.

Citations

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics (2004). Clinical practice guideline: Otitis media with effusion. Pediatrics, 113(5): 1412–1429.

Last Updated: February 2, 2009

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