Less painful tonsillectomy

February 20, 2009 3:33:38 PM PST
Many children have tonsil infections that just won't go away. Standard tonsillectomies can leave kids down and out for weeks, but a new procedure cuts days out of the healing process Mason keeps his mom on the run, but it wasn't always that way.

"They weren't sure exactly why he wasn't eating," said his mom, Carla McRae.

Mason was diagnosed with failure to thrive. Kids with the disorder can't take in enough calories needed for weight gain and growth. At eight months he had to rely on a feeding tube to eat.

Mason grew healthier, but the feeding tube damaged his tonsils. Dr. Mitchell Austin, a pediatric otolaryngologist at Nemours Children's Clinic in Orlando, Florida, decided to take them out using a new device that cuts with ions.

"The ions create heat at a very localized, fixed point," said Dr. Austin

The tool generates four times less heat than traditional cutting devices, leaving a smaller scar on the throat.

"Lesser depth of burn versus a deeper burn," Dr. Austin explained.

Just a few millimeters less damage can cut recovery time in half.

"They're eating in a week instead of two weeks," Dr. Austin said. "They're taking probably five or seven days less of stronger narcotic pain medications and their moms feel better that their child is in less pain requiring less pain medicine."

Mason was eating 24 hours after the operation.

"You would not look at him and know he had surgery the day before," Carla described.

Just two weeks post-op, he's back to being a typical two-year-old. Hopefully it's a sign his troubles are behind him.

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