Michigan Boy Dies After Laser Tonsil Surgery

The revival of tonsillectomies has spurred new innovations to make the operation less painful, including a less-invasive procedure called a tonsillotomy that removes just part of the tonsil and various ways to cut tissue -- including plasma technology, cauterization, microdebriders and lasers.

But along with the new technology comes a reminder of why people abandoned the surgery in the first place.

Despite the best medical advances, any surgery in the head and neck can carry grave risks. Dr. Nortin Hadler, author of "Worried Sick: A Prescription for Health in an Overtreated America," said when tonsillectomies were routine, the death rate was as high as 1 to 2 per 1,000 surgeries.

Pediatric surgeons who specialize in head and neck surgery say what ended Mosher's life -- a pseudo-aneurism in the carotid artery -- is a rare, but very present risk in any tonsil surgery.

"In a situation like that it wouldn't matter how a tonsil was operated on," said Keamy.

Although that particular complication is rare, Keamy said it's a good idea for any parent or patient dealing with a tonsillectomy to take risks seriously.

"The number one thing is that any blood that they see, they have to take very seriously -- even if it's a tint of blood in the salvia," said Keamy. "They can't tell if something is wrong. Only a doctor can tell."

The Mosher Family has set up the Hunter Allen Mosher Memorial Fund at Bank of America

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