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Dermatol Clin. 2002 Jul;20(3):569-78, ix.

The current status of curettage and electrodesiccation.

Author information

  • Department of Dermatology, Fletcher Allen Health Center, 1 South Prospect Street, Burlington, VT 05495, USA. glenn.goldman@vtmednet.org


Curettage and electrodesiccation (CE) is a technique widely used in the destruction of benign and selected malignant cutaneous neoplasms. CE is used mainly by dermatologists and family practice physicians, whereas plastic surgeons and other surgeons excise most benign and malignant lesions. The use of CE for the treatment of skin cancer has been widely extolled and also fervently criticized. Some practitioners treat most non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSC) with CE, and others have called for abandoning the technique in the treatment of such lesions. A thorough review of the literature reveals that CE has both virtues and flaws. In taking a rational approach to the treatment of benign and malignant cutaneous lesions it is essential to learn the basis for CE, the likely cure rates for given lesions, the proper technique, and the expected level of cosmesis. As the surgical treatment of skin cancer has become firmly entrenched in the field of dermatology, it is valuable to examine this technique in depth and to come to some thoughtful conclusions about its use for patients with skin cancer and assorted benign skin lesions. Last year a remarkably complete and exhaustive favorable review of curettage, electrosurgery, and skin cancer was published by Sheridan and Dawber. This article is a must read for anyone performing curettage; however, the author is writing with a slightly different perspective, that of a dermatologic surgeon. Although the author believes that CE has value and he uses this technique frequently, he disagrees with some of the truisms expressed in the literature about CE and attempts to define carefully what he believes are the strengths and limitations of this technique.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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