Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Adenoid Enlargement Anatomy

To better understand enlarged tonsils, it helps to understand the anatomy of the throat and tonsils.

The back of throat is also referred to as the pharynx. More specifically, the pharynx is the back, upper part of the throat behind the tongue. It starts at the base of the tongue and ends at the larynx.

The tonsils and adenoids are paired lymph nodes that are located in the back of the throat. The adenoids are located above the tonsils in the back of the throat. The tonsils and adenoids are part of the immune system, which fights infection.

Anatomy examples:

  • Normal pharynx in an adult
  • Normal pharynx in a child

The tonsils are collections of lymphoid tissue in the back of the throat. They are located on both sides of the throat, near the base of the tongue. The tonsils generally shrink over time. At puberty, the tonsils are normally about the size of an almond.

Anatomy examples:
  • Normal anatomy of the pharynx
  • Normal tonsils in a child

Last Updated: Apr 22, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Adenoid Enlargement References
  1. Chien CY, Chen AM, Hwang CF, Su CY. The clinical significance of adenoid-choanae area ratio in children with adenoid hypertrophy. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2005 Feb;69(2):235-9. [1565695]
  2. Huang SW, Giannoni C. The risk of adenoid hypertrophy in children with allergic rhinitis. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2001 Oct;87(4):350-5. [1168642]
  3. Tuncer U, Aydogan B, Soylu L, Simsek M, Akcali C, Kucukcan A. Chronic rhinosinusitis and adenoid hypertrophy in children. Am J Otolaryngol. 2004 Jan-Feb;25(1):5-10. [15011200]
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