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Technique Offers Safer Tonsil Removal

MONDAY Sept. 17, 2007 -- An "intracapsular" technique to remove tonsils may cause less postoperative heavy bleeding and pain than traditional tonsillectomy, a new study finds.

The technique involves removing at least 90 percent of tonsil tissue but sparing the tonsil capsule. Traditional tonsillectomy cuts and removes all tonsil tissue.

Researchers at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., analyzed the medical records of almost 3,000 patients who had their tonsils removed between 2002 and 2005. Of those patients, more than 1,700 had the intracapsular technique and just over 1,200 underwent traditional tonsillectomy.

Published in the September issue of the journal Archives of Otolaryngology--Head & Neck Surgery, the study found that 1.1 percent of patients in the intracapsular group had delayed (more than 24 hours after surgery) severe bleeding and 0.5 percent required surgery to stop the bleeding, compared with 3.4 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively, in the traditional tonsillectomy group.

Emergency room treatment for pain or dehydration was required for 3 percent of intracaspular patients and 5.4 percent of traditional tonsillectomy patients.

There was one potential drawback, however: Revision tonsillectomies were necessary in 11 (0.64 percent) of the intracapsular patients but not in any patients who had traditional surgery.

"Although the risks for intracapsular tonsillectomy are lower than those for traditional tonsillectomy, the procedure is not always effective," the study authors concluded.

More information

The American Academy of Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery has more about tonsillectomy procedures.

Posted: September 2007


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