Postoperative complications of powered intracapsular tonsillectomy and monopolar electrocautery tonsillectomy in teens versus adults

Douglas R. Johnston, Michael Gaslin, Maurits Boon, Edmund Pribitkin, David Rosen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objectives: This study was performed to determine whether teens have different rates of posttonsillectomy hemorrhage, admission for dehydration, or recurrent tonsillitis compared to adults. Specifically, these parameters were compared within two groups: patients who underwent powered intracapsular tonsillectomy (PIT) and those who underwent monopolar electrocautery tonsillectomy (MET). Methods: In a retrospective review of 579 patients at least 12 years of age from January 2000 to July 2006 in a tertiary referral center, outcome measures of reoperation for hemorrhage, readmission or emergency room visit for dehydration, and postoperative tonsillitis were compared for 200 patients 12 to 19 years of age and 379 patients more than 19 years of age. These outcome measures in teens were compared to those in adults who had tonsillectomy by the same technique (101 teens who underwent PIT compared to 117 adults who underwent PIT, and 99 teens who underwent MET compared to 262 adults who underwent MET). Outcome measures were also compared within the PIT and MET groups based on the indication for surgery (chronic tonsillitis, tonsillar hypertrophy, or both). Results: In comparing teens to adults who underwent the same technique (PIT versus PIT, or MET versus MET), no statistically significant differences existed in the incidence of hemorrhage, dehydration, or postoperative tonsillitis. Greater hemorrhage rates for adults who underwent MET compared to teens, however, almost met statistical significance (p = 0.053). Analyzing complication rates by indication within the PIT and MET groups exclusively revealed higher rates of hemorrhage in adults who underwent the MET technique for the indication of chronic tonsillitis. Within the PIT comparison, no significant differences were found on the basis of indication for surgery. Conclusions: Teenage patients who undergo tonsillectomy should be considered unique as far as complication rates are concerned. Comparison of technique-specific complication rates between adults and teens showed no significant differences in either the PIT or MET groups, although adults who underwent MET had greater hemorrhage rates that almost met significance (p = 0.053). Adults who were undergoing tonsillectomy for chronic tonsillitis were more likely than teens to encounter postoperative hemorrhage if they underwent the MET technique.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-489
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • Adolescent
  • Electrocautery
  • Hemorrhage
  • Intracapsular tonsillectomy
  • Tonsillectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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