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To compare the extent of tissue damage produced by conventional cold steel and coblation tonsillectomy.
Twenty patients underwent conventional and 18 underwent coblation tonsillectomy. The removed tonsils were histopathologically evaluated.
Analgesic use was lower in the coblation group during the early post-operative period. Histological investigation of tonsils removed by the conventional method showed intensive haemorrhage and hyperaemia in the tonsillar capsules, which was not seen in the coblation group. Furthermore, in the coblation group, there was less mast cell degranulation (p = 0.0081) and a smaller amount of skeletal muscle tissue (p = 0.0043) in the tonsillar capsules, indicating less tissue damage.
Compared to the cold steel technique, coblation tonsillectomy is superior in terms of less early post-operative pain and less damage to surrounding tissues. Significantly lower mast cell degranulation in coblation tonsillectomy may contribute to the reduction of post-operative pain.
This study compared post-tonsillectomy pain scores and recovery using the coblation-only technique, comparing extracapsular versus intracapsular approaches.
A prospective study was performed in our paediatric ENT department. Pain scores were recorded on days 0, 2, 4 and 8, using a visual analogue scale ranging from 0 (no pain) to 10 (extreme pain). Information was also collected on: return to normal fluid and solid intake, and any post-operative visits to primary care.
In total, 101 patients were included in the analysis. Average pain scores were statistically lower on days 2, 4 and 8 in the intracapsular group compared to the extracapsular cohort. The intracapsular cohort also returned sooner to normal fluid and solids intake. The extracapsular group were more likely to visit the general practitioner post-operatively.
Intracapsular tonsillectomy appears to result in reduced morbidity overall and should be considered as a viable alternative in relevant cases.
A single-centre, single-blinded prospective experimental study was conducted to determine the effectiveness of autologous platelet-rich plasma applied to the tonsillar bed post-operatively in reducing post-operative pain and haemorrhage.
Platelet-rich plasma, prepared prior to surgery, was applied with calcium gluconate to one randomly chosen tonsillar fossa. Pain and haemorrhage were analysed, using a visual analogue scale and a pre-defined grading scale respectively, four times on the day of surgery at 2-hourly intervals, and thrice on the following day.
The pain score and haemorrhage grade on the test side were lower than on the control side. These findings were statistically significant.
This pilot study, conducted in India, revealed valid positive results for a promising new technology. The manual preparation of platelet-rich plasma could be automated in the future to allow a larger sample size.
Tonsillectomy is one of the most common otolaryngological procedures. Nonetheless, there is still no universally approved ‘gold standard’ technique.
To compare the safety and efficacy of argon plasma coagulation and coblation techniques in tonsillectomy.
A multi-institutional, retrospective cohort study was conducted, comprising 283 patients who underwent bilateral tonsillectomies performed by a single surgeon between 2014 and 2017. The outcome measures included: operative time, intra-operative blood loss, post-operative pain and post-operative haemorrhage.
In the argon plasma coagulation group, mean operative time and post-operative haemorrhage rate were significantly reduced, p = 0.0006 and p = 0.003 respectively. There was no statistically significant difference between the two groups in terms of post-operative pain and intra-operative blood loss.
The argon plasma coagulation technique is easy, safe and efficacious. Argon plasma coagulation tonsillectomy seems cost-effective compared to coblation tonsillectomy: the single-use disposable electrode tip and wand used in this study cost AUD$76.50 and AUD$380 respectively. Argon plasma coagulation appears to be a favourable alternative to current modalities such as coblation.
The incidence of deep neck space abscesses, which can result in significant morbidity and mortality, is rising. The aetiology is thought to be dental. However, this study suggests a reduction in tonsillectomies may be associated with the rise.
In a retrospective cohort study, patients were identified by a clinical code within one hospital over 10 years. Evidence of preceding infection source, management, lifestyle risks, comorbidities and demographics were extracted.
Fifty-two patients were included: 23 (44 per cent) had concurrent or recent tonsillitis; 11 (21 per cent) had poor dental hygiene; 22 (42 per cent) were smokers; and 9 (17 per cent) had diabetes. The incidence of deep neck space abscess cases increased from 1 in 2006, to 15 in 2015 (correlation value 0.9; p = 0.00019).
The incidence of deep neck space abscess cases is increasing. Risk factors include tonsillitis, smoking and dental infection. This paper adds to the growing evidence that deep neck space abscesses are increasingly related to tonsillitis, and questions whether the threshold for tonsillectomy has been raised too high.
This study assessed the preferences of surgeons regarding surgical modalities used for adenotonsillectomy, and determined anxiety levels related to the adenotonsillectomy procedure.
A 10-question survey created by the authors was administered to 413 ENT specialists attending the 4th Congress of Otorhinolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, held in October 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.
Cold knife dissection was the preferred surgical modality for both adenoidectomy and tonsillectomy. Most participants reported encountering one to five patients with post-tonsillectomy bleeding throughout their entire career. The mean anxiety levels during surgery and the 10-day post-operative period were 3.39 ± 2.14 and 4.18 ± 2.63, respectively (p < 0.05). There was a significant negative correlation between anxiety level and surgeon's experience (p < 0.05).
Cold dissection is still the preferred surgical modality for adenotonsillectomy, while both suture ligation and electrocautery are used for haemostasis. Paediatric adenotonsillectomy is likely to generate anxiety in ENT surgeons, and the possibility of secondary post-tonsillectomy bleeding increases the anxiety levels of surgeons in the post-operative period.
Parapharyngeal abscess and mediastinitis are rare but very severe post-operative complications following an elective tonsillectomy. Parapharyngeal abscess as a complication to tonsilectomy is very seldom described in the literature and no cases in the paediatric population have been described.
This paper presents, to our knowledge, the first case of life-threatening parapharyngeal abscess and mediastinitis following elective adenotonsillectomy in an otherwise healthy, fully vaccinated 10-year-old girl.
Diagnosing parapharyngeal abscess and mediastinitis can be challenging, but should be suspected and ruled out in cases of post-operative odynophagia, fever, and/or neck swelling and thoracic pain. Diagnosis is made based on magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography findings. Prompt broad-spectrum intravenous antibiotic treatment and surgical drainage should be initiated. Other severe complications such as meningitis should also be considered.
This study aimed to estimate the cost-effectiveness of Coblation compared with cold steel tonsillectomy in adult and paediatric patients in the UK.
Decision analysis was undertaken by combining published clinical outcomes with resource utilisation estimates derived from a panel of clinicians.
Using a cold steel procedure instead of Coblation is expected to generate an incremental cost of more than £2000 for each additional avoided haemorrhage, and the probability of cold steel being cost-effective was approximately 0.50. Therefore, the cost-effectiveness of the two techniques was comparable. When the published clinical outcomes were replaced with clinicians’ estimates of current practice, Coblation was found to improve outcome for less cost, and the probability of Coblation being cost-effective was at least 0.70.
A best-case scenario suggests Coblation affords the National Health Service a cost-effective intervention for tonsillectomy in adult and paediatric patients compared with cold steel procedures. A worst-case scenario suggests Coblation affords the National Health Service an equivalent cost-effective intervention for adult and paediatric patients.
In order to evaluate the safety of tonsillectomy among children, we retrospectively studied the incidence of post-operative complications, adverse events and their association with peri-operative medication.
Data were collected from the medical records of 691 patients aged 1–16 years, including details of post-operative complications (any unplanned contact with the hospital), analgesics, dexamethasone, 5-HT3 antagonists, local anaesthetic and haemostatic agents.
Recovery was complicated in 13.6 per cent of patients, of whom 8.4 per cent were re-admitted to the ward. The most common complication was post-tonsillectomy haemorrhage, experienced by 7.1 per cent of patients. Re-operation under general anaesthesia (for grade III post-tonsillectomy haemorrhage) was required by 4.2 per cent of patients. Peritonsillar infiltration of lidocaine with adrenaline increased the risk of post-tonsillectomy haemorrhage (odds ratio = 4.1; 95 per cent confidence interval = 2.1 to 8.3).
Every seventh paediatric patient experienced a complicated recovery after tonsillectomy, caused by post-tonsillectomy haemorrhage in most cases. Local peritonsillar infiltration of lidocaine with adrenaline was associated with an increased risk of post-tonsillectomy haemorrhage.
To summarise the available literature related to wound healing post tonsillectomy, including the stages of healing, experimental models for assessing healing (in animals and humans) and the various factors that affect wound healing.
A search of the English literature was conducted using the Ovid Medline database, with the search terms ‘tonsillectomy’ or ‘tonsil’ and ‘wound healing’. Thirty-one articles that objectively assessed tonsillectomy wound healing were included for analysis.
The majority of assessments in humans investigating tonsillectomy wound healing involve serial direct clinical examinations of the oral cavity. Many patient and surgical factors have been shown to affect wound healing after tonsillectomy. There is some research to suggest that the administration of adjunctive treatment in the post-operative period may be beneficial to tonsillectomy wound healing.
Wound healing post tonsillectomy has been poorly researched. Having a better understanding of the process of wound healing would allow surgeons to potentially prevent, anticipate and manage complications from the surgery that arise as part of the healing process.
To assess the feasibility of using cumulative sum analysis to show trainees’ performance curves and highlight concerns in tonsillectomy surgery.
In this prospective study, the performance of eight otolaryngology trainees (in their first 6–12 months in the specialty) was compared to that of experts (over 150 tonsillectomies performed) in terms of operative time and post-operative complications. Cumulative sum analysis curves were generated to highlight trainees’ performance, and were updated after each performance.
The average operative time was 23 minutes (standard deviation = 11) for experts and 38 minutes (standard deviation = 16) for trainees (p < 0.0001). Cumulative sum analysis charts for trainees’ operative time initially rose and then started to plateau after a number of cases (range, 25–30), while that of experts remained low. Cumulative sum analysis charts for complications can be used to monitor performance. In this study, complications were combined (because of low incidence) to allow use of this outcome measure.
The flexibility of the cumulative sum analysis makes it adaptable to any outcome. It is a strong adjunct in surgical training to monitor progress and competence. Its sensitivity also allows early detection of poor performance, to instigate intervention.
Histories of twentieth-century surgery have focused on surgical ‘firsts’ – dramatic tales of revolutionary procedures. The history of tonsillectomy is less glamorous, but more widespread, representing the experience and understanding of medicine for hundreds of children, parents and surgeons daily. At the start of the twentieth century, tonsillectomy was routine – performed on at least 80 000 schoolchildren each year in Britain. However, by the 1980s, public and professional discourse condemned the operation as a ‘dangerous fad’. This profound shift in the medical, political and social position of tonsillectomy rested upon several factors: changes in the organisation of medical institutions and national health care; changes in medical technologies and the criteria by which they are judged; the political, cultural and economic context of Britain; and the social role of the patient. Tonsillectomy was not a mere passive subject of external influences, but became a potent concept in medical, political, and social discourse. Therefore, it reciprocally influenced these discourses and subsequently the development of twentieth-century British medicine. These complex interactions between ‘medical’ and ‘non-medical’ spheres question the possibility of demarcating what is internal from what is external to medicine.
Despite the plethora of publications on the subject of paediatric obstructive sleep apnoea, there seems to be wide variability in the literature and in practice, regarding recourse to surgery, the operation chosen, the benefits gained and post-operative management. This may reflect a lack of high-level evidence.
A systematic review of four significant controversies in paediatric ENT was conducted from the available literature: tonsillectomy versus tonsillotomy, focusing on the evidence base for each; anaesthetic considerations in paediatric obstructive sleep apnoea surgery; the objective evidence for the benefits of surgical treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea; and the medical treatment options for residual obstructive sleep apnoea after surgical treatment.
Results and conclusion:
There are many gaps in the evidence base for the surgical correction of obstructive sleep apnoea. There is emerging evidence favouring subtotal tonsillectomy. There is continuing uncertainty around the prediction of the level of post-operative care that any individual child might require. The long-term benefit of surgical correction is a particularly fertile ground for further research.
During tonsillectomy, one of the key concerns is establishing adequate haemostasis. Intra-operative haemorrhage from the upper pole of the tonsil fossae can be a challenge to deal with because of an inability to clearly visualise bleeding points. Laryngeal mirrors are readily available in an ENT operating theatre and routinely used for indirect visualisation of the post-nasal space during adenoidectomy.
This paper describes a technique, utilising a laryngeal mirror placed within the tonsil fossa (after having removed the palatine tonsil), to visualise the upper pole and any bleeding points.
Results and conclusion:
Laryngeal mirrors can be used with case to inspect the tonsil fossa post-tonsillectomy for bleeding points which may not be directly visible, so that these can be cauterised.
Paediatric obstructive sleep apnoea is a common clinical condition managed by most ENT clinicians. However, despite the plethora of publications on the subject, there is wide variability, in the literature and in practice, on key aspects such as diagnostic criteria, the impact of co-morbidities and the indications for surgical correction.
A systematic review is presented, addressing four key questions from the available literature: (1) what is the evidence base for any definition of paediatric obstructive sleep apnoea?; (2) does it cause serious systemic illness?; (3) what co-morbidities influence the severity of paediatric obstructive sleep apnoea?; and (4) is there a medical answer?
Results and conclusion:
There is a considerable lack of evidence regarding most of these fundamental questions. Notably, screening measures show low specificity and can be insensitive to mild obstructive sleep apnoea. There is a surprising lack of clarity in the definition (let alone estimate of severity) of sleep-disordered breathing, relying on what may be arbitrary test thresholds. Areas of potential research might include investigation of the mechanisms through which obstructive sleep apnoea causes co-morbidities, whether neurocognitive, behavioural, metabolic or cardiovascular, and the role of non-surgical management.
Tonsillectomy is a common procedure with significant post-operative pain. This study was designed to compare post-operative pain, returns to a normal diet and normal activity, and duration of regular analgesic use in Coblation and bipolar tonsillectomy patients.
A total of 137 patients, aged 2–50 years, presenting to a single institution for tonsillectomy or adenotonsillectomy were recruited. Pain level, diet, analgesic use, return to normal activity and haemorrhage data were collected.
Coblation tonsillectomy was associated with significantly less pain than bipolar tonsillectomy on post-operative days 1 (p = 0.005), 2 (p = 0.006) and 3 (p = 0.010). Mean pain scores were also significantly lower in the Coblation group (p = 0.039). Coblation patients had a significantly faster return to normal activity than bipolar tonsillectomy patients (p < 0.001).
Coblation tonsillectomy is a less painful technique compared to bipolar tonsillectomy in the immediate post-operative period and in the overall post-operative period. This allows a faster return to normal activity and decreased analgesic requirements.
The safety of day-case tonsillectomy is widely documented in the literature; however, there are no evidence-based guidelines recommending patient characteristics that are incompatible with day-case tonsillectomy. This study aimed to identify which patients should be considered unsafe for day-case tonsillectomy based on the likelihood of needing critical intervention.
Retrospective review of 2863 tonsillectomy procedures performed at University Hospital Geelong from 1998 to 2014.
Of the patients, 7.81 per cent suffered a post-tonsillectomy complication and 4.15 per cent required intervention. The most serious complications, haemorrhage requiring a return to the operating theatre and airway compromise, occurred in 0.56 per cent and 0.11 per cent of patients respectively. The following patient characteristics were significantly associated with poorer outcomes: age of two years or less (p < 0.01), tonsillectomy indicated for neoplasm (p < 0.01) and quinsy (p < 0.05).
The authors believe that all elective tonsillectomy patients should be considered for day-case surgery, with the following criteria necessitating overnight observation: age of two years or less; an indication for tonsillectomy of neoplasm or quinsy; and an American Society of Anesthesia score of more than 2.
To investigate choroidal thickness using enhanced-depth imaging optical coherence tomography in paediatric patients with adenotonsillar hypertrophy, with comparison to healthy children, three months after adenotonsillectomy.
The patients were assigned to three groups: an adenotonsillar hypertrophy group, an adenotonsillectomy group and a healthy control group. In all groups, subfoveal, temporal and nasal choroidal thickness measurements were taken.
In the subfoveal, temporal and nasal regions, choroidal tissue was found to be significantly thinner in adenotonsillar hypertrophy children than healthy children (p = 0.012, p = 0.027 and p = 0.020). The subfoveal and temporal choroidal thickness measurements of adenotonsillar hypertrophy group cases were significantly decreased compared to those in the adenotonsillectomy group (p = 0.038 and p = 0.048).
There was a significant association between decreased choroidal thickness and adenotonsillar hypertrophy. Adenotonsillar hypertrophy may play an important role in decreased choroidal thickness.
Acellular dermal matrices are increasingly used in laryngotracheal and pharyngeal reconstruction, but specific indications and the type of acellular dermal matrix used vary. The authors systematically reviewed outcomes relating to acellular dermal matrix use in head and neck reconstruction.
Electronic databases were searched through 1 May 2016 for literature on acellular dermal matrix use in laryngotracheal and pharyngeal reconstruction. Studies were appraised for surgical indications, outcomes and study design.
Eleven publications with 170 cases were included. Eight articles reported on acellular dermal matrix use in oncological reconstruction. Most studies were case series; no high-level evidence studies were identified. Graft extrusion was more common in non-oncological applications. In general, post-oncological reconstruction with an acellular dermal matrix demonstrated complication rates similar to those reported without an acellular dermal matrix.
Evidence in support of acellular dermal matrix use in head and neck reconstruction is generally poor. Prospective comparative studies are required to define the indications, safety and effectiveness of acellular dermal matrices in laryngotracheal and pharyngeal reconstruction.
Paediatric tonsillectomy is a common procedure and one of the first skills acquired by surgical trainees. Post-tonsillectomy bleeding is one of the most significant complications. This study examined post-tonsillectomy bleed rates associated with technology and level of surgical experience.
Data were collected on all tonsillectomies performed by surgical consultants (n = 6) and trainees (n = 10) at affiliated hospitals over a nine-month period. Hospital records were audited for post-tonsillectomy bleeding re-admissions and returns to the operating theatre.
A total of 1396 tonsillectomies were performed (279 by trainees, 1117 by consultant surgeons). Primary post-tonsillectomy bleed rates were equivalent between trainees and consultants. Secondary bleed rates were significantly greater for trainees (10.0 per cent) compared to consultants (3.3 per cent), as were return to operating theatre rates (2.5 per cent vs 0.7 per cent). Amongst consultants, technology used was not associated with differences in secondary post-tonsillectomy bleeding and returns to the operating theatre.
Our data suggest that experience of the surgeon may have greater bearing on post-tonsillectomy bleed rates than the technology used.