Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size

Coblation Emerges as Tonsillectomy Option

Researchers Say Less Pain, Better Swallowing After Surgery With Low-Temperature Device
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 23, 2005 -- A low-temperature device for removing a child's tonsils offers surgery with less lingering pain than tissue-burning techniques.

It's called Coblation. The device uses radio waves that turn a simple salt solution into a stream of powerfully charged ions. These ions don't get very hot. But they carry so much energy, they cut right through tissues.

Electrocautery does much the same thing but uses higher temperatures to burn through tissues. A new study, presented at this week's annual meeting of the American Academy of Otolaryngology, compares Coblation to electrocautery.

The report, by Sukgi S. Choi, MD, of Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., is based on hospital records from nearly 2,000 kids aged 1 to 18. Doctors used electrocautery on 1,252 kids and Coblation on 745 kids.

Choi's team looked at several problems that can occur after tonsillectomy. These are heavy bleeding in the first 24 hours after surgery, heavy bleeding more than 24 hours after surgery, and dehydration (from less oral intake due to swallowing pain) requiring a trip to the emergency room.

Choi reports that:

  • Coblation and electrocautery have the same risk of serious bleeding: less than 1% for early bleeding, and about 3%-5% for later bleeding.
  • More kids had to go to the emergency room for dehydration after electrocautery (5.1%) than after Coblation (3.1%).

Choi concludes that Coblation may cause less postoperative pain than electrocautery.

A caution about Coblation therapy came from a 2004 report on patients treated in the U.K. In that study, three times as many Coblation tonsillectomy patients had postoperative bleeding as patients with tonsillectomies performed with traditional "cold steel" instruments.

Other tonsillectomy techniques, which were not looked at in the study, include use of ultrasonic energy and laser technology.

Today on WebMD

child with red rash on cheeks
What’s that rash?
plate of fruit and veggies
How healthy is your child’s diet?
smiling baby
Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
Middle school band practice
Understanding your child’s changing body.

worried kid
jennifer aniston
Measles virus
sick child

Child with adhd
rl with friends
Syringes and graph illustration