Pharyngeal tonsil

Pharyngeal tonsil
Location of the adenoid
Latin tonsilla pharyngea
MeSH Adenoids

Adenoids (or pharyngeal tonsil, or nasopharyngeal tonsil) are a mass of lymphoid tissue situated posterior to the nasal cavity, in the roof of the nasopharynx, where the nose blends into the throat.

Normally, in children, they make a soft mound in the roof and posterior wall of the nasopharynx, just above and behind the uvula.



Adenoids, unlike other types of tonsils, have pseudostratified columnar ciliated epithelium.[1]

They also differ from the other tonsil types by lacking crypts. The adenoids are often removed along with the tonsils. This can cause a very sore throat for about a week and rather unpleasant breath. Most people's adenoids are not even in use after a person's third year[citation needed], but if they cause problems they must be taken out[citation needed] or they may otherwise shrink.


Enlarged adenoids, or adenoid hypertrophy, can become nearly the size of a ping pong ball and completely block airflow through the nasal passages.

Even if enlarged adenoids are not substantial enough to physically block the back of the nose, they can obstruct airflow enough so that breathing through the nose requires an uncomfortable amount of work, and inhalation occurs instead through an open mouth.

Adenoids can also obstruct the nasal airway enough to affect the voice without actually stopping nasal airflow altogether.

Adenoid facies

Enlargement of adenoids, especially in children, causes an atypical appearance of the face, often referred to as adenoid facies.

Features of Adenoid facies include Open mouth/mouth breathing, Long elongated face, prominent incisors, Hypoplastic maxilla Short upper lip, Elevated nostrils, High arched palate,

George Catlin, in his humorous and instructive book Breath of Life, published in 1861, illustrates adenoid faces in many engravings and advocates nose-breathing.[2]

Removal of the adenoids

Surgical removal of the adenoids is a procedure called adenoidectomy.

Adenoids may be removed if they become infected, causing symptoms such as excessive mucus production. Studies have shown that adenoid regrowth occurs in as many as 20% of the cases in which they are removed.

Carried out through the mouth under a general anaesthetic (or less commonly a topical), adenoidectomy involves the adenoids being curetted, cauterised, lasered, or otherwise ablated.

See also


  1. ^ Histology at KUMC lymphoid-lymph06
  2. ^ Wylie, A, (1927). "Rhinology and laryngology in literature and Folk-Lore". The Journal of Laryngology & Otology 42 (2): 81–87. doi:10.1017/S0022215100029959. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • pharyngeal tonsil — n a mass of lymphoid tissue at the back of the pharynx between the eustachian tubes that is usu. best developed in young children, is commonly atrophied in the adult, and is markedly subject to hypertrophy and adenoid formation esp. in children… …   Medical dictionary

  • pharyngeal tonsil — noun a collection of lymphatic tissue in the throat behind the uvula (on the posterior wall and roof of the nasopharynx) hypertrophy of the pharyngeal tonsils is called adenoids enlarged adenoids may restrict the breathing of children • Syn:… …   Useful english dictionary

  • pharyngeal tonsil — noun An adenoid …   Wiktionary

  • crypts of pharyngeal tonsil — cryptae tonsillares tonsillae pharyngealis …   Medical dictionary

  • tonsillar crypts of pharyngeal tonsil — cryptae tonsillares tonsillae pharyngealis …   Medical dictionary

  • lymphoid nodules of pharyngeal tonsil — noduli lymphoidei tonsillae pharyngealis …   Medical dictionary

  • pharyngeal bursa — n a crypt in the pharyngeal tonsil that represents a communication existing during fetal life between the pharynx and the tip of the notochord * * * bursa pharyngealis [TA] an inconstant blind sac located above the pharyngeal tonsil in the… …   Medical dictionary

  • tonsil — 1. Intraepithelial collection of lymphocytes forming a lymphoepithelial ring in the pharynx. 2. SYN: palatine t.. [L. tonsilla, a stake, in pl. the tonsils] cerebellar t. SYN: t. of cerebellum. t. of cerebellum [TA] a rounded lobule on the… …   Medical dictionary

  • pharyngeal bursa — noun : a crypt in the pharyngeal tonsil thought to represent the communication that exists during fetal life between the pharynx and the hypophysis …   Useful english dictionary

  • tonsil — tonsillar, tonsilar, tonsillary /ton seuh ler ee/, adj. /ton seuhl/, n. Anat. a prominent oval mass of lymphoid tissue on each side of the throat. [1595 1605; < L tonsillae (pl.) the tonsils] * * * Small mass of lymphoid tissue in the wall of the …   Universalium

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