OBJECTIVE: To evaluate three current tonsillectomy techniques--intracapsular microdebridement, intracapsular coblation, and traditional extracapsular electrocautery dissection--comparing surgical parameters, efficacy, and morbidity in the treatment for obstructive sleep disordered breathing in children.
STUDY DESIGN: Prospective, double-blinded study with follow-up by telephone interview.
METHOD: From February 2004 to July 2006, a total of 156 patients between the ages of 6 months and 22 years scheduled for adenotonsillectomy were randomly assigned to electrocautery, coblator, and microdebrider groups.
OUTCOME MEASURES: 1) Patient demographics; 2) Intraoperative time; 3) Surgeon's perception of difficulty; 4) Indicators of postoperative morbidity: pain, use of pain medication, return to diet, and activity level; 5) Complications; 6) Cost.
RESULTS: Microdebrider technique produced the shortest total surgical time, averaging 16 minutes. Use of coblation resulted in 2 less days of pain medication compared to electrocautery. Patients in the coblator and microdebrider groups returned to a normal diet 1.51 days and 1.77 days earlier, respectively, than in the electrocautery group. They also returned to preoperative activity levels 1.85 days and 2.06 days earlier than in the electrocautery group. Of all three methods, the microdebrider was the most cost effective. The coblator and microdebrider did not differ significantly from each other in all other parameters. The three techniques showed no statistically significant difference in assessment of difficulty, average pain scores, or postoperative complications.
CONCLUSIONS: Postoperative recovery following intracapsular adenotonsillectomy in children with obstructive sleep apnea is significantly earlier with use of either the coblator or microdebrider versus traditional extracapsular tonsillectomy with electrocautery. Microdebrider and coblator were comparable in all other areas except for shorter operative time and less cost for the microdebrider.
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