What is Electrosurgery?

What is Electrosurgery?

Electrosurgery is a surgical technique which makes use of high-frequency electrical current to cut and coagulate tissues. Skilled surgeons make use of electrical waveforms to help patients experience less post-operative pain. This process is different from electrocautery or thermo cautery, and it uses a different type of medical device. There are several types of electrosurgical equipment for various medical applications, but they all use electricity and the resultant heat to transform tissues through these effects:

  • Electro-coagulation
  • Electro-desiccation (dehydration)
  • Electro-fulguration
  • Electro-section


How is Electrosurgery Used?

Electrosurgery has widely varied applications and can replace a scalpel for many delicate surgical procedures. Some of the uses of electrosurgery include:

  • Eye surgery
  • Hemostasis
  • Debulking during nasal plastic surgery
  • Treatment of benign skin problems such as skin tags
  • Treatment of malignant skin diseases, including basal cell carcinoma

How Does an Electrosurgical Unit Work?

The electrosurgical unit (ESU) device has a generator and electrodes located in a handpiece. It is usually controlled with a finger or foot switch. Alternating current at a high frequency, between 100 kilohertz and 5 megahertz, is passed through the tissue at voltages ranging between 200 and 10,000 volts. By varying these combinations of frequency and voltage, the trained surgical operator can produce the desired tissue effects by generating different waveforms. There are two types of electrosurgical units, bipolar and monopolar.

Bipolar Electrosurgery

Bipolar refers to equipment which has both an active and return electrode at the site of surgery. These two tips provide the active and return functions, causing only the tissue between the forceps to be part of the electrical circuit. Bipolar electrosurgery works exceptionally well in all mediums, especially in a wet field or fluid surgical site.

Monopolar Electrosurgery

In this type of electrosurgery, there is only one active electrode used at the surgical site and it works well in dry surgical fields. The return electrode is located in a dispersive pad placed elsewhere on the patients body. Electrical current completes its circuit from the handheld active electrode out through the return pad. Built-in safety features prevent burns at the dispersal pad location.



Using an Electrosurgical Generator Unit Safely

Training in their operation and these safety procedures make the use of high-frequency electrical current a safe and effective surgical alternative. Some of the essential safety guidelines for use of an ESU include:

  • Always returning the handpiece to its nonconductive holster.
  • Using the lowest possible generator settings to produce the surgical results needed.
  • Cleaning electrode tips frequently with a sponge to remove buildup during use.
  • Checking dispersal pads frequently for heat buildup, and ensuring monopolar electrosurgery patients do not have metal implants or a pacemaker.
  • Having patients remove all metal jewelry prior to the procedure.
  • Avoiding use in environments containing high levels of oxygen or flammable agents.
  • Allowing alcohol vapors to fully dissipate from surgical prep before use.
  • Preventing electrical cables from coming into contact with sharp metal clips or being wrapped around metal instruments or objects.
  • Using the handpiece only with dry gloves and while standing on a dry surface.
  • Keeping ECG electrodes away from the surgical site and out of the path of electrical current.

Choosing Cutting-Edge Electrosurgical Equipment

When purchasing electrosurgical devices and equipment, talk with our trained sales and service staff at the Medical Device Depot. With personalized and knowledgeable representatives waiting to answer your questions, adding this essential equipment to your facility is easy.

Using the latest surgical equipment brings the best standard of care to patients, expands service opportunities, and enhances your reputation for excellence in healthcare. Dont wait to add electrosurgical devices to your organization. Contact us today to select the perfect unit for your doctors and patients.