Objective: To examine the incidence of postoperative bleeding after coblation and noncoblation tonsillectomy and to use postoperative bleeding as an outcome measure to determine the presence of a learning curve with this new surgical technique.
Study design: A retrospective review of records from January 1999 to April 2003 to determine type of tonsillectomy performed and the presence of postoperative bleeding. A chi-square analysis was used to determine a statistical difference between the postoperative bleed rate of coblation and noncoblation procedures. The examined time period was divided into 3-month intervals, and the coblation postoperative bleeds were tallied for each interval. The Cochraine-Armitage test of linear trend was used to assess change in the postoperative bleeds.
Results: One thousand seven hundred sixty-two tonsillectomies were performed. The postoperative bleed rate for noncoblation tonsillectomy was 6.1% (74/1,216). The bleeding rate for coblation tonsillotomy was 5.9% (18/303) and 5.4% (13/239) for coblation tonsillectomy. There was no statistical difference (P = .93) between bleed rates for coblation versus noncoblation techniques. There was no difference in the need for operative intervention to control postoperative bleeding: 16.2% (12/74) for noncoblation technique and 25.85 (8/31) for coblation procedures (P = .25). The postoperative coblation bleed rates for the 3-month periods did not reveal an increasing or decreasing trend in the postoperative bleed rate (P = .49).
Conclusion: Coblation is a safe procedure for performing tonsil surgery with no significant difference in postoperative bleeding from previous techniques and no increased need for operative intervention to control postoperative bleeding. A learning curve could not be identified when using postoperative bleeding as an outcome measure for coblation tonsillectomy.