Types of tonsillectomy

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  • Electrocautery Tonsillectomy

Many tonsillectomies and adenoidectomies today are performed using electrocautery. Electrocautery removes tonsils and adenoids by burning away the tissue that attaches them to the underlying throat muscles. The method is safe and effective, but the heat can cause thermal injury to surrounding tissues, resulting in more discomfort during the postoperative period.

  • Bipolar Radiofrequency (RF) Tonsillectomy

Biopolar radiofrequency, also known as coblation, is a “gentle” way to remove both tonsils and adenoids. Radiofrequency, or RF, is a form of energy like radio waves. Bipolar RF tonsillectomy uses this energy in a carefully controlled surgical process that separates the tissues of the tonsils and adenoids while causing very little harm to the surrounding healthy tissue.

  • Cold Knife Tonsillectomy

In the cold knife procedure, the surgeon removes the tonsils or adenoids completely using a scalpel. Cold knife (steel) dissection is the oldest tonsillectomy method in use today. In this subcapsular method, the tonsils and/or adenoids are removed completely using a scalpel.

  • Powered Intracapsular Tonsillectomy

The powered intracapsular method removes 90% of the tonsils, leaving a layer of tonsil tissue over the throat muscles. Powered intracapsular tonsillectomy uses a “microdebrider” to remove the tonsils or adenoids. The microdebrider is a shaving device with a small rotating tip. This method is used to perform a sub-total tonsillectomy, a technique in which a layer of tonsil tissue is left to protect the throat muscles from exposure.

  • Ultrasonic Dissection Tonsillectomy

Ultrasonic dissection uses high-frequency vibrations to vibrate the blade of a specially designed scalpel at high frequency. Energy is transferred from the blade of the scalpel to the tonsilar tissue to remove the tonsils or adenoids.


3 Responses to “Types of tonsillectomy”


Just to note, one side effect of ‘coblation’ is a massive swelling of the uvula (I’m talking 4x its normal size). Damn thing gets sucked down my throat every time I breathe following surgery! Swelling took about one week to fully subside. Otherwise the outcomes appear quite good. It doesn’t guarantee you won’t have bleeding though because I still managed to have secondary bleeding following surgery and had to be re-admitted to hospital for observation.



Jason, I had the ‘Coblation’ surgery as well. Swallowing sucked mega time! And you’re right, your uvula is about 4x the normal size. IT SUCKS! My tounge was also a little swollen because they put numbing stuff in it as well because of my small mouth (I would assume. I don’t know honestly) but it felt weird for quite some time. I am on day 8 of my post operative recovery, and my scabs have been falling off for about 3 days now and there has been some bleeding. =[

My dad (i’m only 17 and got my tonsils out the day before I turned 17 *happy birthday to me* NOT!) is an LPN and my surgeon/doctor told him about all this stuff. On Tuesday when I had some bleeding from my scabs my dad called the hospital and my doctor told him to tell me to gargle cold cold water to rinse the scabs because I was almost choking on them. They then told him if I was still bleeding after that to bring me in. Yesterday I woke up on a bunch of blood and, ha ha, dad didn’t take me to the ER. Nope. Mom wanted to, dad said no. He said it’s normal to bleed when you loose your scabs. GRR

Today I’m bleeding some still (not as bad as last night) but I put some bottle water in the freezer last night and now I’m gently drinking the cold cold water as it melts. =] It makes my throat feel so much better! I am aloud to have soft foods but nothing harder then Mac and Cheese from Stouffers. But I’m happy. I’m feeling better and I should be back in school by this Monday (I hope) and so I pray to do better.


    but seriously, i do hope that ben’s srruegy goes well, and that all the popsicles and juice boxes take his mind off the discomfort ..and hopefully THAT will be minimal. do you have a freezer full of his favorite treats?? keep us posted, ok? best healing wishes to the little sweetie.

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    I like this! Informative read, but I am not sure where to go next. Which of your articles would you point me to read next?

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