A new study reveals that a tonsillectomy procedure using less energy than the standard electrocautery may be the key to reducing pain during recovery.
During a tonsillectomy using the electrocautery method, a special scalpel heats tissue as it goes along to control bleeding during the procedure. The microdissection needle technique uses less energy to achieve the same result, which means less trauma to surrounding tissue.
Researchers from both the Children's Hospital Regional Medical Center in Seattle and the Albany Medical Center in Albany, N.Y., investigated the microdissection needle technique on nearly 50 children between ages 4 and 12.
The same surgeon performed all procedures, which were identical except for the type of instrument used. In group A the tonsillectomy was performed using the standard electrocautery procedure. In group B the tonsillectomy was performed using the lower-energy microdissection needle.
The children that underwent the microdissection procedure expressed less pain three to five days after the procedure.
Jonathan Perkins, D.O., and Ravinder Dahiya, M.D., lead authors of the study, conclude, "Without any increase in complications, subjective and objective measurement showed that the use of the microdissection needle resulted in significantly less postoperative pain by day three."
Pain after tonsillectomy is of special concern since it interferes with eating and drinking. Children are especially prone to dehydration because they do not realize the importance of maintaining their normal fluid intake despite pain.