a1 Department of Otolaryngology, The Royal Hospitals Trust, St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, UK.
Tonsillectomy is frequently associated with a considerable post-operative morbidity. In some cases reactionary or secondary haemorrhage occurs and all patients suffer a degree of post-operative pain. The use of bipolar diathermy excision has become popular because it reduces intra-operative blood loss, but all diathermy inevitably produces a degree of damage to adjacent normal soft tissues. In turn this inadvertent injury must act to increase the post-operative pain.
Monopolar dissection using a fine tungsten diathermy needle (the Colorado needle) allows sharp dissection at low power levels and in previous studies has been shown to produce a reduction in collateral tissue damage. In this prospective study the morbidity associated with tonsillectomy using this needle was compared to that following a standard bipolar dissection.
Using the monopolar needle produced no enhanced risk of reactionary or secondary haemorrhage while causing significantly less post-operative pain and a reduction in eschar. We believe that excision using this needle preserves the advantages associated with bipolar dissection while reducing local soft tissue damage.
(Accepted June 25 1997)
c1 Address for correspondence: Mr G. S. Kenyon, Department of Otolaryngology, The Royal Hospitals Trust, St Bartholomew's Hospital, West Smithfield, London EC1A 7BE.