Safety and efficacy of pressure-assisted tissue-welding tonsillectomy: A preliminary evaluation

February 1, 2008
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Abstract

We conducted a retrospective study of the safety and efficacy of a new pressure-assisted tissue-welding technology (ENTceps; Starion Instruments Corp.; Sunnyvale, Calif.) for total tonsillectomy, either alone or with adenoidectomy. The use of this instrument was compared in two groups of patients categorized by age. The younger group was made up of 50 patients aged 2 to 12 years who had undergone total tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy (T&A), and the older group was made up of 50 patients aged 13 to 47 years who had undergone either T&A or isolated total tonsillectomy. The primary safety endpoint was the presence or absence of intra- or postoperative complications—particularly the amount of intraoperative blood loss and the incidence of delayed postoperative bleeding. In each group, the mean amount of intraoperative blood loss was no more than 30 ml, and only 2 of the 100 patients experienced postoperative hemorrhage. Among the efficacy parameters were the amount of operating and recovery time and the postoperative appearance of the tonsillar fossae. The mean operating time was 13.0 minutes in the younger group and 19.5 minutes in the older group, and the mean total recovery times were 120.0 and 130.4 minutes, respectively; all tonsillar fossae were well epithelialized by 2 weeks after surgery. Finally, surgical morbidity was determined on the basis of the amount of perioperative pain medication administered, the number of unscheduled patient telephone contacts and clinic visits, and the amount of time needed to return to a normal diet and activities. Nine patients in the younger group and 6 in the older group required no pain medications during recovery; overall, pain was not a significant issue for most patients. Sixteen patients made a total of 20 telephone calls and 8 clinic visits prior to their scheduled postoperative appointment; almost all of these encounters dealt with postoperative pain. Only 1 patient, who had previously undiagnosed von Willebrand disease, had not returned to a normal diet and activities by the end of 1 week. Based on our preliminary findings—and a comparison of our results with those of other studies published in the literature relative to the amount of intraoperative bleeding, the incidence of postoperative bleeding, and operating times—we conclude that pressure-assisted tissue-welding technology is safe and compares favorably with other tonsillectomy techniques. This method of electrocautery is straightforward and relatively easy to learn.

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