Colleagues from Sapir Medical Centre, Chaim Sheba Medical Centre and
Tel Aviv University conducted the research to investigate tonsils as
a source of halitosis and assess the potential of laser ablation as a
The study contained 30 men and 23 women aged from 18 to 61 years, all
suffering with halitosis originating from chronic fetid tonsillitis.
In the condition, the surface of the tonsil becomes infected with gas-
producing bacteria that can hide in openings known as crypts and
cause bad breath.
The treatment consisted of guiding a CO2 laser beam with a power of
between 10 and 20 W over the tonsils. A scanner quickly rotates the
focused laser beam over a 3 - 4 mm circle to vaporize the tonsils
without causing thermal damage to surrounding tissue.
The advantage of the technique is that it can be performed in an
office setting with the patient under local anaesthetic. Of the 53
patients in the study, 47 immediately resumed regular work and
routine activities. All patients were back at work within 3 days of
receiving treatment, which lasted no more than 20 minutes.
28 patients were cured in one session, 18 patients required a second
visit and 5 patients returned for a third treatment. "The findings
show that the tonsils are a source of halitosis, and are effectively
treated by laser vaporization," said the authors in their paper. "All
our patients were cured from their bad breath, 51 by cryptolysis [the
laser therapy] and only 2 patients by tonsillectomy."
James Tyrrell is reporter on Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe