Adenoid facies

Last revised by Daniel J Bell on 18 Feb 2021

Adenoid facies, also known as the long face syndrome, refers to the long, open-mouthed face of children with adenoid hypertrophy.

The most common presenting symptoms are

  • chronic mouth breathing
  • snoring

The most dangerous feature is sleep apnea.

The characteristic facial appearance consists of:

Its diagnostic features are:

  • Dennie's lines: horizontal creases under the lower eyelids (first described by the American physician Charlies Dennie)
  • a nasal pleat: the horizontal crease just above the tip of the nose produced by the recurrent upward wiping of nasal secretions
  • allergic shiners: bilateral shadows under the eyes produced by chronic venous congestion.

Adenoid facies can form part of Cowden syndrome.

Enlarged adenoids are not easily identified on physical examination. A lateral radiograph of the nasopharynx may assess the size of adenoids and the size of the airway remaining. A radiation-free method is direct endoscopic visualization with a laryngoscope.

The mouth is always open because upper airway congestion has made patients obligatory mouth breathers. Persistent mouth breathing due to nasal obstruction in childhood may be associated with the development of craniofacial anomalies such as the adenoid facies. 

Adenoid facies is also typical of recurrent upper respiratory tract allergies. 

A lateral radiograph of the nasopharynx provides a simple and cost-effective method for assessing the size of adenoids and the amount of post-nasal airway space remaining.

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