Objective. To describe the tonsillectomy techniques and management used by practicing otolaryngologists in the United States. Study Design. Anonymous 18-question postal survey of pediatric and general otolaryngologists on their current tonsillectomy practices. Setting. Tertiary academic medical center. Subjects and Methods. Current preoperative, perioperative, and postoperative practices in tonsillectomy were queried with multiple-choice and open-ended questions. Pediatric otolaryngologists and general otolaryngologists were compared. Results. Eighty percent of respondents perform subcapsular (total tonsillectomy) dissection. Most otolaryngologists trained with either monopolar cautery (52%) or cold steel (42%). The Coblator (ArthroCare ENT, Austin, Texas) is the most common single instrument used for tonsillectomy (27.5%), followed by monopolar cautery (26%), but in combination with other instruments, monopolar cautery was still more common (33.5%) than coblation (28.9%). Coblation was more common among private practice and general otolaryngologists. The majority of those surveyed do not use intraoperative local anesthesia, but most do use intraoperative steroids (67%). Compared with generalists, pediatric otolaryngologists were less likely to use coblation, were less likely to use local anesthetic, managed postoperative pain slightly differently, and were more likely to recommend diet ad libitum after surgery. Otolaryngologists were more likely to admit medically compromised patients postoperatively. Conclusions. Coblation is becoming a more commonly used instrument for tonsillectomy. Pediatric otolaryngologists perform more tonsillectomies than do general otolaryngologists and manage their patients differently.
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