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Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE): Quality-assessed Reviews [Internet]. York (UK): Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (UK); 1995-.

Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE): Quality-assessed Reviews.

Systematic review and meta-analysis of electrocautery versus scalpel for surgical skin incisions

Review published: 2012.

Bibliographic details: Aird LN, Brown CJ.  Systematic review and meta-analysis of electrocautery versus scalpel for surgical skin incisions. American Journal of Surgery 2012; 204(2): 216-221. [PubMed: 22537473]

Quality assessment

The authors concluded there were no significant differences in wound infection rates or scar appearance between electrocautery and scalpel for surgical skin incisions. Electrocautery significantly reduced the incision time and postoperative wound pain, with a trend towards less incisional blood loss. The small number of variable trials included and a limited search mean that these conclusions should be interpreted tentatively. Full critical summary

Abstract

BACKGROUND: The creation of surgical skin incisions has historically been performed using a cold scalpel. The use of electrocautery for this purpose has been controversial with respect to patient safety and surgical efficacy. A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) was conducted to compare skin incisions made by electrocautery and a scalpel.

DATA SOURCES: A systematic electronic literature search was performed using 2 electronic databases (MEDLINE and PubMed), and the methodological quality of included publications was evaluated. Six RCTs were identified comparing electrocautery (n = 606) and a scalpel (n = 628) for skin incisions.

CONCLUSIONS: No significant difference in wound infection rates or scar cosmesis was identified between the treatment groups. Electrocautery significantly reduced the incision time and postoperative wound pain. A trend toward less incisional blood loss from skin incisions made with electrocautery was noted. Electrocautery is a safe and effective method for performing surgical skin incisions.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

CRD has determined that this article meets the DARE scientific quality criteria for a systematic review.

Copyright © 2013 University of York.

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