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Harmonic scalpel tonsillectomy versus monopolar diathermy tonsillectomy: A prospective study

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June 1, 2008
by Jason A. Roth, BSc(Med), MBBS, Tobias Pincock, MBBS, FRACS;, Raymond Sacks, MBBCh, FCS(SA)ORL, Martin Forer, MBBCh, FRACS;, Neil Boustred, MBBCh, FCS(SA)ORL, William Johnston, MBBS, FRACS;, and Michael Bailey, PhD, MSc


For tonsillectomy, the ultrasonic harmonic scalpel has been purported to cause less tissue injury and postoperative morbidity while providing adequate levels of hemostasis. We undertook a prospective study to compare outcomes in 162 patients who had undergone harmonic scalpel tonsillectomy and 40 patients who had undergone monopolar diathermy tonsillectomy over a 33-month period. We found that patients in the harmonic scalpel group experienced significantly less intraoperative bleeding (5.0 vs. 16.5 ml; p < 0.0001). There was no clinically significant difference between the groups with respect to (1) the amount of operating time, (2) the incidence of postoperative nausea and vomiting, dysphonia, and primary or secondary bleeding, and (3) the amount of time patients needed to resume normal diet and activities.

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