Carbon dioxide laser tonsillotomies were performed on 33 children aged 1-12 years for the relief of obstructive symptoms due to tonsillar hyperplasia. As opposed to conventional tonsillectomy, only the protruding part of each tonsil was removed. A carbon dioxide laser delivering 20 W was used for the excision. Twenty-one children were seen in active short-term follow-up and the records of all the children were checked for possible surgery related events up to 20-33 months after surgery. Laser tonsillotomy was uniformly effective in relieving the obstruction, with good hemostasis. The tonsillar remnants healed completely within 2 weeks. No major adverse events occurred. Post-operative pain appeared slight and easily controlled. There was no gain in operating time compared with conventional tonsillectomy. The laser tonsillotomies were in most cases done in day surgery. No recurrence of obstructive problems was reported up to 20-33 months after surgery. It was concluded that tonsillotomy, using a carbon dixoide laser, is a valid treatment for obstructive symptoms caused by enlarged tonsils, which can be performed with little bleeding and post-operative pain. The improved hemostasis may enable a shift from in-patient to day surgery. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.
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