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The term coblation comes from the words controlled ablation or removal. Coblation tonsillectomy is a surgical procedure performed to completely or partially remove the tonsils using radiofrequency radiation, provided by a pen-like device known as ablation wand. With the use of coblation tonsillectomy, the tonsils are safely removed without causing much damage to the neighboring tissues. It is usually performed in the operating room with the patient under general anesthesia in a 30-45 minute procedure.
The tonsils are two lymphoid tissues producing white blood cells, called lymphocytes, and are found at the back of the throat. They are part of the body's immune system and are responsible for filtering out germs which enter the body through the mouth and nose. In tonsillitis, when the tonsils are infected, they can be seen as enlarged red tissues on each side of the back of the throat. Factors that may indicate the need for a coblation tonsillectomy or other tonsillectomy procedure include difficulty breathing or swallowing due to enlarged tonsils, frequently occurring sore throats often causing throat pain, and sleep apnea, a disorder where an individual experiences pauses or shallow breathing during sleep.
Otolaryngologists, also called ear, nose, and throat (ENT) physicians, are doctors who specialize in the care and treatment of patients with disorders affecting the ears, nose, throat, and other structures in the neck and head area. ENT physicians are trained and licensed surgeons who are qualified to perform tonsillectomy procedures. Removal of the tonsils may involve a traditional tonsillectomy, wherein the tissues are removed by cutting and burning using electrocautery, or coblation tonsillectomy, which removes the tonsils with the use of radiofrequency energy.
Performing a coblation tonsillectomy to remove the tonsils generally has fewer side effects when compared with the traditional tonsillectomy procedure. Side effects such as pain and the possibility of infection are usually expected with both procedures. There are, however, significantly lower levels of pain after coblation tonsillectomy, resulting in less frequent use of pain medications or narcotics.
Bleeding and damage to neighboring tissues are also less common in a coblation tonsillectomy, resulting in faster healing. Incidences of nausea and dehydration after surgery are significantly reduced as well. Many patients heal and recover faster, allowing them to resume their normal eating patterns and activities usually after three days as compared to the traditional tonsillectomy, which may take some patients a week after surgery to return to their normal diet.