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Children’s ear, nose and throat (ENT)

Child having their ear examined.

Children's ear, nose and throat (ENT)

There are several common procedures carried out on children in ENT departments.

Grommet insertion

Grommets are small ventilation tubes that are put inside the eardrum to equalise pressure and prevent a build-up of fluid (glue ear) or recurrent infection. Inserting grommets in children requires a general anaesthesia to put them to sleep. This procedure takes about 10 to 15 minutes, but more time will be needed for the Anaesthetic team to put your child to sleep and wake them up again. Please see the full leaflet below from ENT UK.

Adenoid surgery/Adenoidectomy

Adenoids are a small gland of lymphoid tissue (a type of tissue that helps the immune system) that are located at the very back of the nose. An adenoidectomy (removal of the adenoid tissue) is considered for children with:

  • Nasal blockage (due to an adenoid blocking the back of the nose).
  • Sleep related breathing problems.
  • In association with glue ear/ ear symptoms.

The procedure is done under general anaesthetic. When the surgeon removes the adenoid, the operation alone lasts for about 10 to 30 minutes. There is a range of techniques used to do this operation. For more information, please see the below leaflet from ENT UK.

Tonsil surgery/Tonsillectomy

Tonsils are made of a type of lymphoid tissue (a type of tissue that helps the immune system) and can often be seen at the back of the mouth, one on either side. Tonsillectomy also known as removal of the tonsil(s) is carried out on children who meet certain criteria:

  • regular tonsillitis that requires antibiotics or,
  • symptoms of disturbed sleep and noisy breathing (sleep disordered breathing) because of their tonsils size.

This operation takes between 15 to 45 minutes and a variation of techniques can be used for this procedure. Currently children below the age of 2 years who require an operation to have their adenoids and/or tonsils removed undergo their surgery at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. Those above 3 years can have their surgical procedure at their local hospital so long as there are no other health concerns. Children between the age of 2 and 3 years can have their operation either in their local hospital or in Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital depending on the set-up and the arrangements made in their area.

While you wait for ENT surgery

ENT UK is the professional membership body representing ENT surgery. They have produced several patient information leaflet you will find helpful.

What should you do if your child’s health is deteriorating?

If you need clinical advice while you wait, you can either contact your GP, your ENT department or you can visit the website or call 111 for further advice. If you are unsure about anything, reach out to the service they have been referred to.

If your child develops pain or fever which does not resolve with paracetamol/Calpol, bleeds at any point, struggles to breath or is unable to eat and drink, please seek urgent medical advice and attend the Emergency Department.

Over the counter paracetamol and/or ibuprofen can be used to relief simple pain and fever for your children, your local pharmacy can advise with dosage and which medication is best for your child and their condition if they complain of pain or fever.

Last Updated: 12 April 2024

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