Avera Medical Minute: New Tonsillectomy technique reduces pain, recovery time

Published: Oct. 18, 2020 at 11:16 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - When Hannah Edgar of Aberdeen took two-year-old Jax to the doctor, she asked about his tonsils and his sore throat that just kept coming back.

“We had been told by his pediatrician that he has big tonsils, and he was getting strep throat about every six to eight weeks or so,” said Edgar.

She could see him change with each infection.

“But just kind of get wiped out. He would have a fever. He really wouldn’t want to eat or drink anything, which would obviously just wear him down,” said Edgar.

Avera Ear Nose and Throat Surgeon Dr. Bob Cihak understands what it’s like to have ongoing pain. It leads him to help others in the Aberdeen area.

“When I was young, I had ear infections, I had tonsil problems. I was always in my ENT’s doctor’s office and he was kind of a hero to me,” said Dr. Cihak.

Tonsil infections can be treated in several different ways.

“You know their options are: keep doing what they’re doing, being treated with antibiotics or their sore throats, deal with the obstructive symptoms, or have them out. And once that decision is made, then it’s the technique of the surgeon,” said Dr. Cihak.

A new technique still brings the same results as before, but with a lot less pain.

“The capsule is a thin layer of tissue between the tonsil and the muscles of the throat and traditional tonsillectomy dissects underneath this and takes the capsule out with the tonsil. In the new technique I’ve been performing I remove all the tonsils down to the capsule but leave the capsule in. And we still get the same good results but the pain. Afterward, it’s much better and the recovery is much smoother,” said Dr. Cihak.

Hannah chose the new procedure for little Jax.

“Funny mom moment... he had the full backpack that we let him take with, and the kid would not take it off. I mean, they took him back to get like for the procedure and they let him keep it on, and then the entire time we were in the hospital he just ran around with this little Bumblebee backpack, it was adorable,” said Edgar.

Compared to her older son who had his tonsils removed the traditional way, Jax had an intracapsular tonsillectomy. The recovery time was much different with the new technique.

“By day, two and three post-op, he was eating and drinking again. By day four, he was jumping on the bed,” said Edgar.

And four months later...

“He has not been sick again. Since then, we are really glad that we did end up going through and doing it, even though he was so little,” said Edgar.

“This new intracapsular technique I would never go back and I think it’s been one of the better gifts I could give to my patients with tonsil problems. And it’s been a game-changer,” said Dr. Cihak.

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