Electrocautery is a procedure used during surgery or individually where direct or alternating current is passed through metal wire electrode. The heated electrode is then applied to a part of the body to stop bleeding or remove damaged tissues or prevent infection. Therefore, the procedure is used to achieve varying degree of tissue destruction. It is used for a number of surgical procedure like- dermatology, ophthalmology, otolaryngology, plastic surgery and urology. Dermatologists use it for removal of wart on the body while an ENT (ear, nose and tongue) specialist may use the procedure for treating nosebleeds. It is also used in situations where the surgeon or doctor needs to access a remote part of the body by cutting through soft tissues. It is also believed to be used in absence of antibiotics.
Because of low risk of the procedure where electric current is not passed through the body of the patient, it can safely be used in patients with implanted electrical devices such as cardiac pacemakers, implantable cardioverter-defibrillators and deep-brain stimulators. In all such procedures, electrocautery is either done by unipolar or bipolar method. Moreover, the amount of heat applied during electrocautery depends on the site of application and what is used for. However, there is also chemical cautery which is not preferred by medical professionals and doctors as there is the danger of chemical leaching to other parts of the body and tissues.
For the procedure of electrocautery to take place, prior preparations has to be done which includes not taking any blood-thinning medicine like aspirin or ibuprofen or warfarin. Your doctor will tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the night before the procedure. It is also advised to stop smoking for a few before the procedure or surgery. Your doctor might also schedule a blood test to find out whether you have any bleeding tendencies and also inform your doctor of any medical condition like diabetes or high blood pressure.
It is important to note that the procedure of electrocautery can be performed with or without the need for anesthesia. As it is a standard treatment, the time required for the procedure will depend on the actual surgery it is performed with and also the desired purpose and result you want. Basically, it will involve placing a grounding pad on your body so that you are protected from getting an electric shock. After which the site of application of the electrode is cleaned and applied with a gel to prevent burns. A small probe with the heated electrode will be used to damage or destroy tissues. As a result of the heat, the damaged tissue or tumor or excessive bleeding is stopped.
Anyone who is bleeding excessively or having an unwanted growth of tumour or having a wart on their face or feet is eligible for the procedure of electrocautery.
Any person not susceptible to bleeding or not having any wart or tumour is not eligible for the treatment.
The procedure of electrocautery has fewer risks and complications that include slight bleeding, infection and pain. Your doctor will prescribe some antibiotics to reduce the infection and discomfort. However, using anesthesia can lead to health complications or having certain medical conditions like obesity, sleep apnea or allergic reaction may increase your complications even more. You should contact your doctor if you are having symptoms like worsening of pain and swelling around the surgical wound, bleeding or fluid drainage, signs of an infection, fever, dizziness or lightheadedness, muscle aches and allergic reactions due to prescribed medicines. Therefore, try to collect as much information as possible about the procedure and talk to your doctor about any risks or complication that you might experience once the treatment is done.
The post-treatment guideline for electrocautery will include not touching the site of wound or surgery as it might cause infection or bleeding from the site. It’s important to take good care of the wound so that it heals properly. You should apply a layer of petroleum on the wound area and then bandage it properly. Remember to clean the wound once or twice a day with saline water or diluted hydrogen peroxide. Cleaning and maintaining the wound is not the only requirement, you also have to take your medicine routinely as prescribed your doctor. You must also do a follow-up with your doctor to finish the treatment properly.
Recovery will depend on the type of procedure that is being performed. However, it will usually range from two to three weeks. Healing time will be longer if larger tissue or tumor is removed.
As the procedure of electrocautery is used along with some other surgery, the price for the treatment varies greatly and includes the cost of the complete surgical procedure. However, when it is used individually it usually ranges from Rs.10,000 to Rs.30,000.
Yes, the results of the treatment are permanent.
There are various alternative treatments available. Some of the most common and popular are chemical cautery which is more riskier than electrocautery, cryosurgery and diathermy where high frequency electromagnetic currents are used.