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Laser Surgery & Tonsils: Two Complicated Conditions To Understand

by Terry Wilson

Laser surgeries are becoming more popular and common as laser technologies advance. Lasers are used to remove cataracts, tattoos, varicose veins, tumors, and infected gum tissues. Lasers are also used for various surgeries that involve the tonsils. In most cases, the surgical lasers remove the tonsil tissues during a bloodless procedure.

You may think that tonsillitis is the only medical issue that would require surgical care. However, this is not the case. Keep reading to learn about other tonsil conditions that you may notice and that may require laser surgery due to their complicated nature.

Tonsil Abcess

If you have tonsillitis or strep throat that is not properly treated, then you are likely to form a peritonsillar abscess. This will also happen if you have a recurrent infection that is treated multiple times with antibiotics. In this case, the bacteria causing the infection will not be killed off entirely and the infection will occur again and again.

The strongest bacteria that are resistant to the antibiotic medication you have been taking will then form an abscess. Peritonsillar abscesses will look like large white sacs or formations that sit directly on the tonsils. The sac is likely to smell foul, since it is filled with infectious pus. 

How is the Condition Treated?

Peritonsillar abscesses can burst on their own and cause infections to form in the lungs, throat, or mouth. This is one reason why your physician is likely to lance and drain the abscess. If the abscess accompanies a chronic tonsillitis condition or if several of the abscesses have formed over the last few years, then a tonsillectomy will likely be performed. In most cases, doctors shy away from completing tonsillectomies on adults due to bleeding risks and the potential for other surgical complications. However, abscesses place you at a greater risk of forming a serious infection, and the infection risks are greater than those seen when a tonsillectomy is performed. This is especially true when a laser surgery is performed instead of a traditional one.

Tonsil Cancer

If you smoke, drink alcohol, and are over the age of 50, then you may be placing yourself at risk of forming tonsil cancer. Your risks are even greater if you have HIV, HPV, or another condition that affects your immune system. Tonsil cancer may appear much like tonsillitis at first. Your tonsils will look swollen and red, and generally they will be larger on one side where the cancerous tumor has formed. Your throat, mouth, and ears will probably hurt, and you may have trouble eating and drinking. You will also likely see a sore on one of the tonsils that does not clear up. Not only will the sore persist or worsen, but so will the rest of your symptoms, even when medication is provided.

How is the Condition Treated?

Your physician will likely take a bacterial culture that is tested to make sure the condition is an infection. However, since the problem is actually cancer, the test will come back negative. This will inform your doctor of a more serious issue. Blood, MRI, X-ray, and CT scan tests will then be completed, and the tests will show the cancerous tumor. 

In most cases, surgery will be scheduled in a timely manner to make sure that the cancer does not spread. Laser surgery is used most often when the cancer is seen, because this will allow the physician to remove more of the cancerous tissues at one time without increasing bleeding risks. Also, lasers can be used in a much more precise and pinpointed manner, and this is helpful to make sure that all the cancer cells are removed. You will probably also need to go through some radiation or chemotherapy after surgery is completed though.

Tonsil issues sometimes require surgical intervention, and these problems can be far more complicated than a simple strep throat or tonsillectomy condition. This is the case when abscesses and cancer are seen. These medical problems, along with a slew of others, are often treated with the pinpointed accuracy of lasers.