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New Type of Tonsil Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital and Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat Institute Reduces Recovery Time for Children

July 24, 2002

Otolaryngoloists at Lenox Hill Hospital and its subsidiary, Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat Institute (MEETI), are advancing a new type of tonsillectomy that promises to radically alter post-surgical recovery for children who suffer from obstructive tonsil disorders.

For the past two years, Robert Ward, MD, Director of Pediatric Otolaryngology at Lenox Hill Hospital and MEETI, and attending surgeons Max M. April, MD, and John P. Bent, MD, have been performing intracapsular tonsillectomy. This procedure removes approximately two-thirds of the tonsil tissue, leaving the tonsillar capsule intact and the muscle covered. "Although the experience to date has been preliminary, our initial results have been very encouraging," said Dr. Bent, noting that the team has been performing several procedures each week.

A partial tonsillectomy can be recommended for a child who has difficulty swallowing, breathes heavily or suffers from the more serious sleep apnea syndrome - a ccndition marked by heavy snoring and restless sleep that can lead to daytime tiredness, poor school performance and medical problems. These disorders are often caused by swollen or enlarged tonsils that can obstruct the throat and airways, impeding a child's ability to breathe or swallow properly.

Unlike a traditional tonsillectomy, where the tonsils and tonsillar capsule are removed completely, intracapsular tonsillectomy leaves a layer of protective tissue in place which significantly reduces the pain and recovery time for the patient.

Many children who undergo an intracapsular tonsillectomy experience little if no post-operative pain, return to school the very next day and can often eat normally the night of the surgery. "With minimal pain and a greatly reduced recovery period, this procedure may be one of the best things in recent memory for patients in our specialty," said Dr. Bent.

"There is very little bleeding associated with this procedure and the healing is much more predictable," notes Dr. April. "Another benefit is the reduced surgery time. Intracapsular tonsillectomy takes about ten minutes to perform, reducing the amount of anesthesia required and allowing even a very young child to undergo the procedure."

For more information on intracapsular tonsillectomy, call the Department of Otolaryngology at Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat Institute at (212) 605-3770.

Members of the press seeking information about Lenox Hill Hospital should call the Public Relations Department at (212) 434-2400.