Electrosurgery is a common elective surgery that veterinarians perform. It has many benefits, but also some drawbacks. The following are electrosurgical procedures that are commonly performed on animals: ear pinning, tail docking, castration and spaying, ovariohysterectomy (spay), incisional hernia repair, and other elective surgeries.
If you’re considering electrosurgery for your animal patients or if you want to learn more about it – this post should be helpful!
Electrocautery is a procedure in which the surgeon uses an electrical current applied through electrodes at high frequency to cut tissues. This page presents multiple options when applied to veterinary electrosurgery. The following are electrosurgical procedures that are commonly performed on animals: ear pinning, tail docking, castration and spaying, ovariohysterectomy (spay), incisional hernia repair, and other elective surgeries.
The benefits of electrosurgery include:
Reduced bleeding – Electrocautery stops bleeding by sealing the blood vessels.
Less pain – The use of electrocautery often results in less swelling and inflammation than traditional surgery. This is because electrocautery seals nerve endings as well as blood vessels. In addition, electrocautery cauterizes tissue so there is little to no chance of infection.
Faster healing time – electrocautery results in less swelling and inflammation than traditional surgery. This allows electrosurgery to have a faster recovery time for patients.
Optional suturing – electrocautery seals the blood vessels, which is why there’s no need to close wounds with stitches or staples after electrosurgery.
Precise control over tissue dissection – electrocautery can easily coagulate nerves as well as tissues quickly during surgery because of its high-frequency use. In addition, electrocautery provides precise control over how deep the incision goes into the body before it stops cutting through tissue (unlike traditional surgical cutting). The following are some drawbacks associated with electrosurgery:
Higher initial cost – Although electrocautery is cheaper in the long run, electrosurgery can have a higher initial cost because of equipment costs.
High-frequency burns – electrocautery can cause high-frequency burns if applied for too long or at an inappropriate temperature. In addition, electrocautery should always be used with caution to avoid thermal spread beyond intended areas and causing unintended damage due to overheating tissues during surgery.
Closing wounds – Wounds created by electrosurgery cannot be sutured closed after as they are when using traditional surgical methods. This means that pets will need to wear bandages over their incisions until those incisions heal on their own (which usually takes between one and three weeks).
Now that you understand the basics of electrosurgery, let’s take a look at some specific electrosurgical procedures that are commonly performed on animals.
Ear pinning is a cosmetic surgery procedure used to reduce or prevent ear folding in dogs and cats. The surgery involves removing a small section of the animal’s ear cartilage. This procedure is typically an outpatient surgery with a quick recovery time.
Tail docking is the amputation of part of the tailbone (or dock) from certain breeds of livestock and pets. It is most commonly done on puppies between seven and ten days old but can be done on older animals as well. The benefits of tail docking include reducing the incidence of rabies, preventing injuries due to a dog or cat’s tail getting stuck in a door, and preventing injuries during breeding.
Tail docking is typically an electrosurgical procedure that occurs at the farm while animals are still very young (between seven to ten days old). Tail docking is not painful for pets because it happens when they’re too young to feel any discomfort from surgical procedures. All of this makes electrocautery a great option for veterinarians who perform tail dockings on their patients.
Castration involves the removal of testicles from male livestock and pets using electrocautery or traditional surgery methods. There are benefits associated with electrocautery over traditional surgery such as less bleeding, faster healing time due to reduced swelling/inflammation, precise control over tissue dissection, and the ability to coagulate nerves.
Castration is typically an electrosurgical procedure that can be done on older animals as well. Pets will typically recover within a week’s time following surgery.
Now that you understand veterinary electrosurgery, you’re ready to perform electrocautery procedures on your patients! Be sure to use caution when performing these surgeries and always adhere to safety guidelines to minimize any risks associated with electrosurgery.