Hemorrhage following coblation tonsillectomy

Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2005 Oct;114(10):749-56. doi: 10.1177/000348940511401003.


Objectives: We performed a prospective study to evaluate the incidence of post-tonsillectomy hemorrhage (PTH) in adults and children who underwent Coblation tonsillectomy (CTE) under general anesthesia.

Methods: The data of 63 adults and children (mean age, 21.8 years) were analyzed.

Results: There were 7 episodes of considerable bleeding (11.1%) that required surgical treatment under general anesthesia in 6 patients, of whom 5 experienced secondary bleeding (>24 hours). Moreover, bleeding and massive swelling of the pharynx required surgical treatment and prolonged intubation (35 hours) in 1 patient. None of the patients received blood transfusions. There was no case with a lethal outcome. Less intense bleeding (clots; blood-tinged sputum) was observed in 17 patients (27%) who required readmission or prolonged inpatient observation, 1 of whom had previously undergone surgical treatment of PTH. However, these 17 patients had an uneventful clinical course. In total, 22 patients experienced minor or major forms of PTH (34.9%).

Conclusions: At least in our hands, CTE dramatically increased the frequency of PTH. The high rate of secondary bleeding contrasts with our documented experience using conventional methods, ie, cold dissection and suture ligation, to achieve hemostasis (7.9% with CTE versus <0.8% with conventional methods). Therefore, at our institution, tonsillectomy with conventional instruments remains the method of choice.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Clinical Competence
  • Electrocoagulation / instrumentation*
  • Electrocoagulation / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Postoperative Hemorrhage / prevention & control*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tonsillectomy / methods*