Tonsils are fleshy masses of lymphatic tissue that help fight off illness and infection. The tonsils are located on both sides of the throat and in the back of the throat, behind the nose. They are part of our lymphatic system and, in their healthy state, produce antibodies to battle bacteria that enter through the mouth and nose.
Tonsils help the body fight infection by sampling germs that enter our bodies through the nose and mouth when we breathe. Sometimes, the tonsils themselves can become infected, which leads to redness and inflammation. When the tonsils are inflamed, swallowing can become very painful.
Tonsils are removed for two main reasons: recurrent infection and tonsillar hypertrophy (enlarged tonsils). Tonsillar infection leads to inflammation and swelling (tonsillitis), which can be very painful. A patient who develops tonsillitis repeatedly in a relatively short amount of time is said to have recurrent tonsillitis. To treat recurrent tonsillitis, doctors may consider removing the tonsils. Enlarged tonsils, by contrast, are typically not painful, but in some cases they can block the throat or restrict airflow during breathing.
Tonsillectomy is one of the most commonly performed procedures today. Approximately 600,000 adult and pediatric tonsillectomies are performed annually in the US.*
*Noordzij JP, Affleck BD. COBLATION versus unipolar electrocautery tonsillectomy: a prospective, randomized, single-blind study in adult patients. Laryngoscope 2006;116(8):1303-9.
No matter how statistically safe a procedure has proven to be, every surgery has risks. Post Tonsillectomy Hemorrhage (PTH) is a potentially serious complication that has been reported in literature for both adult and pediatric patients. It is reported to occur following use of COBLATION devices as well as following the use of other surgical devices and methods. Before making any surgical decision, you should speak with your doctor about any potential risks.
COBLATION wands are contraindicated for use in patients with cardiac pacemakers or other electronic device implants.