Oct. 18, 2004 – Remember having your tonsils removed? It's likely you were nursing a sore throat and on the Jell-O diet for quite a while.
"In the past there was a downtime of two weeks for a tonsillectomy," said Dr. Adam Shapiro of V.I. Ear, Nose and Throat. "People used to shy away from the procedure because of the pain and recovery time."
Well, that was the old way of doing things. Dr. Shapiro is the first in the territory to use Coblation to remove tonsils and shrink tissue. Unlike traditional tonsillectomy procedures, which remove tonsils by cutting or burning, Coblation uses radio frequency technology to quickly, and safely remove tonsils without affecting nearby tissue. According to the Web site www.arthrocare.com, coblation is derived from "controlled ablation." There's no charring or burning, allowing patients to have a fast and easy recovery. Dr. Shapiro said Coblation started to be used in the late 90s on the mainland, but it's a breakthrough procedure in the Virgin Islands.
"Over the years we've removed tonsils with a knife and a snare. Then we went to electrical cauterization, which heated the tissue to 600 degrees. We kept people in the hospital for a week," said Dr. Shapiro. "This is the latest generation where you have your tonsils out and go back to normal. I'm very excited about the whole thing. This technique doesn't get any warmer than 70 or 80 degrees."
Dr. Shapiro did four procedures at the Roy Lester Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas one day last week. Three of those patients went home the same day, and the procedures generally lasted about 40 minutes.
"It's a lot better for the patient. It's a lot less painful. The discomfort you have when you get tonsils out isn't there," said Dr. Shapiro.
Coblation is used in turbinate reduction and soft palate treatment, in addition to removing tonsils and adenoids. "In the old days we had to scoop adenoids out using basically something like an ice cream scoop with a blade," said Dr. Shapiro. "It was a blind procedure we did by feel. With this, I vaporize the tissue and see exactly what I'm doing. I can be much more precise."
And, according to Dr. Shapiro, patients are getting up from the procedures with no complaints.
"I'm delighted to have people not have any significant discomfort. I think people can look forward to having their tonsils out and enjoying ice cream," he said.
For more information about Coblation, visit V.I. Ear, Nose and Throat Web site at www.entvi.com.
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