by Kevin Joy
The removal of a child’s adenoid might prompt more questions from parents than the more familiar tonsillectomy.
That’s because the adenoid, a mass of lymphatic tissue in the back of the nose behind the soft palate, is out of sight — and conversation, too.
“Adenoids are a bit more of a mystery to parents because they’re not something as commonly discussed,” says Lauren Bohm, M.D., a pediatric otolaryngologist at University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
Adenoids, which shrink by adolescence in most individuals, are designed to trap germs that enter through the nose. A person’s tonsils maintain a similar function, catching microscopic substances that come in via the mouth.
Surgery doesn’t compromise that line of defense: “Studies have shown that removal of the adenoid doesn’t adversely affect a body’s ability to fight off infection in the long run,” Bohm says. “There’s enough redundancy in the immune system.”
Still, the decision to remove a child’s adenoid should involve careful examination and a discussion between his or her family and their otolaryngologist.