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J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014 Apr;70(4):591.e1-14; quiz 605-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2013.09.056.

Electrosurgery: part I. Basics and principles.

Author information

1
Center for Dermatology Research, Department of Dermatology, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Electronic address: arataheri@gmail.com.
2
Center for Dermatology Research, Department of Pathology, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
3
Center for Dermatology Research, Department of Dermatology, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
4
Center for Dermatology Research, Department of Dermatology, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Center for Dermatology Research, Department of Pathology, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Center for Dermatology Research, Department of Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Abstract

The term electrosurgery (also called radiofrequency surgery) refers to the passage of high-frequency alternating electrical current through the tissue in order to achieve a specific surgical effect. Although the mechanism behind electrosurgery is not completely understood, heat production and thermal tissue damage is responsible for at least the majority--if not all--of the tissue effects in electrosurgery. Adjacent to the active electrode, tissue resistance to the passage of current converts electrical energy to heat. The only variable that determines the final tissue effects of a current is the depth and the rate at which heat is produced. Electrocoagulation occurs when tissue is heated below the boiling point and undergoes thermal denaturation. An additional slow increase in temperature leads to vaporization of the water content in the coagulated tissue and tissue drying, a process called desiccation. A sudden increase in tissue temperature above the boiling point causes rapid explosive vaporization of the water content in the tissue adjacent to the electrode, which leads to tissue fragmentation and cutting.

KEYWORDS:

coagulation; current; electricity; electrocoagulation; electrodesiccation; electrofulguration; electrosurgery; high frequency; radiofrequency

PMID:
24629361
DOI:
10.1016/j.jaad.2013.09.056
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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