Objective: To evaluate microsurgical bipolar cautery tonsillectomy (TEmic) by comparing it with traditional blunt dissection tonsillectomy (TEtrad).
Design: A double-blind prospective randomized trial with stratification in two age groups.
Patients: 200 consecutive patients undergoing tonsillectomy for tonsillar hypertrophy, or recurrent or chronic tonsillitis.
Outcome measures: Duration of surgery, intraoperative bleeding, daily postoperative pain and otalgia, postoperative bleeding episodes.
Methods: Duration of surgery and operative bleeding were evaluated by the anesthesiologist. The patients were instructed to record daily pain and otalgia. Final postoperative evaluation was done by a different physician, blinded to the surgical technique.
Results: Mean intraoperative bleeding was 12 ml for TEmic and 36 ml for TEtrad (P < 0.001). Mean duration of surgery was 37 minutes for TEmic and 36 minutes for TEtrad (NS). Otalgia was present in 41% of TEmic patients and 69% of TEtrad patients (p < 0.001). Daily postoperative pain was lower in the TEmic group than it was in the TEtrad group for the entire study period (10 days). Postoperative hemorrhage was present in three TEmic patients (3%) and in eight TEtrad patients (8%), a difference that did not reach significance (p > 0.1).
Conclusion: Microsurgical bipolar cautery tonsillectomy compares favorably with traditional techniques in terms of intraoperative bleeding, postoperative pain, otalgia, and hemorrhage. This technique combines the hemostatic advantage of cautery dissection, the excellent visualization achieved by a microscope, and, with the use of a video, greatly improves the physician's ability to teach how to perform a tonsillectomy.