Tonsils and adenoids are tissues near the throat that filter out germs entering through the nose and mouth. They're part of the lymphatic system, which plays roles in circulation and immune function. When a child's tonsils or adenoids become infected or enlarged, they may interfere with breathing and sleeping. To resolve these problems, a tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy (removal of the tonsils or adenoids) may be necessary.

A common way to perform these procedures is to use heat to cut and destroy – or cauterize – the tissue. The heat inevitably injures some of the surrounding tissue, which can result in a long, painful post-op period. But UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital offers a procedure called coblation reduces recovery time and pain.

Coblation (a word derived from "controlled ablation" involves using low-temperature radiofrequency and a saline solution to gently and precisely remove the problematic tissues. The risk of injury to surrounding tissue is much lower than with cautery, and patients return to their normal activities more quickly.