Original Article

Lasers in Medical Science

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 865-869

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

The “Swiss-cheese Doppler-guided laser tonsillectomy”: a new safe cribriform approach to intracapsular tonsillectomy

  • B. PalmieriAffiliated withDepartment of General Surgery and Surgical Specialties, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia Medical School, Surgical Clinic
  • , T. IannittiAffiliated withDepartment of Physiology, School of Medicine, University of Kentucky Medical Center Email author 
  • , G. FistettoAffiliated withPoliambulatorio del Secondo Parere
  • , V. RottigniAffiliated withDepartment of General Surgery and Surgical Specialties, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia Medical School, Surgical ClinicPoliambulatorio del Secondo Parere


Outpatient laser ablation of palatine tonsils is a very interesting procedure that has been recently introduced as a routine in head and neck surgery departments. The aim of this study was to describe a new strategy using a Doppler-guided fibre optic neodymium-yttrium–aluminium–garnet (YAG) laser to remove up to 80 % of tonsillar tissue, as assessed in the long-term postoperative clinical evaluation of the volume of the tonsils at the follow-up, and leaving the capsule in place, thus avoiding any haemorrhagic complication and minimize pain. A total of 20 patients (men, n = 13; women, n = 7), aged between 6 and 63, were recruited for the procedure. They were affected by chronic hypertrophic tonsillitis with a recurrent fever and other symptoms that were related to oral inflammation. Among the 20 patients, no serious adverse events, including haemorrhage-related complications, were observed. Treatment was well tolerated, even in patients displaying an overall low pain threshold. No dropout or uncompleted procedure occurred in the present study. Minor complications included sore throat, moderate oedema, mild acute pharynx inflammation, slight peritonsillar exudate and local burning. The postoperative pain, measured by Scott–Huskisson visual analogue scale, was between 5 and 40 mm and was easily counteracted by means of external ice packages and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, according to the individual patient’s need. During the 12–36-month follow-up patients showed improved symptoms (n = 7) and complete recovery (n = 13). A relapse episode was observed in two patients. This study supports fibre optic laser neodymium-YAG tonsil surgery, named “cribriform intracapsular tonsillectomy” or “Swiss-cheese laser tonsillectomy”, as an effective alternative to the traditional cold knife approach or electrosurgery. This approach could become the gold standard for tonsil surgery in the third millennium for safety reasons, acceptable cost–benefit ratio, the precise targeting of the beam across the affected tissues and the short- and long-term recovery.


Neodymium-YAG laser Tonsil Tonsillectomy Surgery Head and neck Inflammation Pain