The Dos and Don’ts of Using Electrosurgical Units Safely

Electrosurgical Units Surgeons regularly use electrosurgery to shrink tissue, ablate, fulgurate, dissect, coagulate and cut during eye surgery. High frequency with sporadic electric currents at different voltages passes through the tissue to produce heat. An electrosurgical unit includes a handpiece that has one or several electrodes and a generator. They control the mechanism using a foot switch or a switch on the handpiece.

Electrosurgical generators can generate different electrical waveforms. The tissue effects will change as soon as the waveforms do. The units develop extremely high currents that can harm both operators and parents if they do not maintain it and use it properly.

The Dos of Using Electrosurgical Units

When you are not using the units, ensure that you place the hand piece in the nonconductive holster. If you do use it, always set it to the lowest possible setting that will accomplish the preferred surgical effect. The odds of arcing will increase if the operators use a higher setting than necessary. Surgeons who ask for higher voltages signal that the skin or dispersive pad interface is already compromised.

Ensure that you regularly clean the electrode tip. While eschar, the dead tissue from burning, gathers on the tip, the electrical impedance will intensify. This can lead to flaming, ignition, sparking or arcing of the eschar. Clean the electrode by wiping the eschar away using a sponge instead of a scratch pad.

The Don’ts of Using Electrosurgical Units

Do not use the unit in any oxygen-enriched environments or near the presence of flammable agents. Never use any flammable substances that can be easily ignited by sparks like skin degreasers and alcohol. Those who need to use alcohol-based items to prepare the skin, do not allow it to a group near the dispersive pad.

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Some operators who use electrosurgical units experience surgical fires and burns at the return electrode site. Avoid these safety issues by following the simple precautions listed here.