Scientific letters

The use of Bipolar Diathermy for the outpatient control of posterior epistaxis

B J McKenzie, J W Loock


B.J.McKenzie, J.W.Loock
Email: Tel: 021 9389318
Tygerberg Hospital, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Stellenbosch
South Africa


To assess the effectiveness of controlling posterior epistaxis using nasal endoscopy and bipolar diathermy without nasal packing, by a registrar level ENT trainee, as the first line treatment at a South African teaching hospital.

Study design

Prospective series


All adult patients presenting to Tygerberg Academic hospital between 01/06/2006 and 01/10/2006 with posterior epistaxis were seen by a single investigator and included in the study. Fourteen patients were included in the study.

Outcome measures.

1) The successful control of posterior epistaxis without the need for any nasal packing.
2) The identification of the bleeding site


Fourteen patients were seen at Tygerberg Hospital by the investigator with posterior epistaxis during the time period. In thirteen of these patients the bleeding site was identified. In eleven patients, the bleeding site was localised and cauterised, with no further bleeding. Two patients were initially controlled but bled again during the period of observation. One patient could not be controlled using this method at initial presentation. These three patients received nasal packs and were taken to theatre for control of the epistaxis.

Posterior epistaxis can be effectively managed using nasal endoscopy and bipolar cautery under local anaesthetic, instead of the traditional “blind” nasal packing. This significantly decreases patient morbidity and inpatient hospital time.

Authors' affiliations

B J McKenzie,

J W Loock,

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Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2008;98(7):536.

Article History

Date submitted: 2007-09-07
Date published: 2008-07-09

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