Objective: To compare the potential risk of blood contamination of the surgeon's conjunctiva during tonsillectomy using disposable bipolar diathermy and reusable monopolar diathermy.
Design: A prospective, single-blind, randomized, controlled trial.
Methods: Elective tonsillectomy was performed using either disposable bipolar diathermy or reusable monopolar diathermy. The operating surgeon wore a ViewsafeTM protective eyeshield which was later examined under an operating microscope by a blinded observer and the number of blood spots counted.
Results: One hundred and sixty-eight patients were enrolled. The relative risk of conjunctival contamination of the surgeon using disposable bipolar diathermy was 2.8 times that with reusable monopolar diathermy (chi-squared test, p < 0.0005). A previous history of peritonsillar abscess and additional adenoidectomy were associated with increased blood splatter.
Conclusion: The use of disposable bipolar diathermy for haemostasis during tonsillectomy poses a greater risk of conjunctival contamination for the surgeon than using reusable monopolar diathermy.