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BBC News UK features live Coblation tonscillectomy webcast from the Royal Infirmary, Blackburn UK.

Jessica MacNeal enjoys her first meal after the operation
View BBC News Reporter Peter Marshall's Report

A pioneering operation to remove a young girl's tonsils - live on the internet - has been hailed a success.

Consultant surgeon Michael Timms operated on Jessica MacNeal, seven, from Blackburn, Lancashire, at the town's Royal Infirmary.

He used a new procedure - coblation tonsillectomy - which is said to be faster and less painful than the conventional surgery.

It uses salt water which is turned into a plasma that can cut through tissue.

The operation took about 15 minutes and was streamed on the internet at about 1000 BST on Wednesday.

'Amazing operation'

Jessica's mother, Sharon, said: "I feel happy for Jessica. She is wide awake, drinking and smiling. It is brilliant.

"Nobody should be concerned about this operation."

"I had my tonsils out 20 year ago and it is amazing how they do it nowadays," said her father William, also 31.

Mr Timms, of the East Lancashire NHS Trust, has pioneered the coblation tonsillectomy since 2000.

He said: "The operation was done live because we live in the modern age and patients are becoming more educated and are entitled to have their say.
"This is a controversial technique and although it works well for some surgeons, it doesn't for others.

"I am not trying to sell this to anyone but I think people should be aware of what is available and that there are alternatives."

Tonsils are oval-shaped masses of lymphatic tissue located at the back of the throat and aid the body in fighting infections.

About five million tonsillectomies are performed across the world each year, making it one of the most common surgeries performed.

Interrupted breathing

Although tonsils sometimes need to be removed because of repeated infections, they are more likely to be taken out because they have grown too large for the patient's airway.

This can result in snoring and interruptions in breathing at night causing daytime tiredness and learning difficulties.

Mr Timms has published several articles demonstrating the benefits of the coblation technique, which includes reduced bleeding, less post-operative pain and shorter recovery time than with conventional methods.

Coblation involves the use of radiofrequency energy to convert a saline solution into plasma.

The energized particles in the plasma then have enough energy to break molecular bonds and can typically aid the removal of soft tissue without damaging the surrounding area.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2004/05/26 14:43:48 GMT

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