Press Release - August 19, 2004

For Immediate Release

August 19, 2004

John Moore
Media Relations
(903) 531-4542


Trinity Clinic Ear Nose & Throat Physicians Using New Technology That Gives Children a Quick Recovery

TYLER, TX – Adults are not the only ones who need help catching more Z’s. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, estimates show that one out of 10 children are habitual snorers. While it may be a little-known fact to most parents, snoring can be an indication of obstructive sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder often caused by tonsils that are too large for a child’s airway.

A new tonsillectomy procedure called Coblation®, which uses radiofrequency waves instead of cauterization, can easily remove the obstruction and remedy the sleep problem. Trinity Clinic Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) physicians recently performed coblation for the first time at Mother Frances Hospital. The procedure takes about 30 minutes to perform and decreases post-operative nausea and throat swelling. Children get back to their normal diets and routines quicker than with other technologies.

“Obstructive sleep apnea has been gaining recognition as a significant sleep problem in children,” said R. Paul Fulmer, MD, Trinity Clinic Ear, Nose, & Throat (Otolaryngology). “In the past, most of my tonsillectomy patients had infection problems, but now I’m seeing far more patients who have upper airway obstructions, snoring and breathing problems due to enlarged tonsils. More than 500,000 children have their tonsils removed each year, making tonsillectomy the second most common childhood surgery. Coblation is the first real breakthrough in improving this procedure. In some cases, adults could also benefit from it.”

Coblation is a less-invasive alternative to conventional electrocautery tonsillectomy. Electrocautery uses high temperatures (up to 750 degrees) to remove tissue, which burns and chars surrounding tissue, and frequently leads to significant post-operative pain and long recovery periods. Coblation applies bipolar radiofrequency (bRF) energy to a conductive solution, such as saline, to create a relatively cool (158 degrees or less) plasma field, which virtually dissolves tonsil tissue, preserves healthy surrounding tissue and can seal any vessels that bleed.

A study published online in the March 2003 issue of Pediatrics found that snoring is significantly more common among children with mild attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) than in the general population. The study suggests that parents whose children exhibit hyperactivity and other ADHD-type symptoms and also snore, be screened for OSA. If the diagnosis turns out to be OSA or sleep disordered breathing, a tonsillectomy may be recommended.

“Coblation works at a much lower temperature than standard methods,” added Dr. Fulmer. “Coblation’s ‘controlled’, non-thermally driven process minimizes damage to surrounding healthy tissue, allowing children to feel well enough to return to their normal play and eating activities very soon after surgery, and get a good night’s sleep as well.”

Coblation decreases post-operative pain and speeds healing, promoting a quicker return to normal diet and routine compared with conventional electrocautery dissection. Physicians normally see a large reduction in patient calls or visits due to complications following Coblation compared with electrocautery.

Trinity Clinic Ear, Nose & Throat includes Paul R. Fulmer, MD; Thomas W. Cooper, MD; J. Dan Toney, MD; Monica J. Shaffer, MD; and audiologist Myrna Powell and is located at 417 S. Saunders. Trinity Clinic ENT physicians perform coblation procedures at Tyler Square, located at the corner of Fleishel and Front Streets. Tyler Square is a free-standing outpatient surgery center that offers complete day surgical services in comfortable, quiet, peaceful surroundings.

For more information regarding Coblation or additional services provided by Trinity Clinic Ear, Nose & Throat, visit or call 903-533-1491. Trinity Clinic is one of the largest multi-specialty physician groups in east Texas, with over 140 physicians representing 25 specialties.

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