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Electrosurgical devices and equipment are in widespread use in today's hospitals. Their ability to perform surgical procedures not otherwise accomplishable makes them indispensable tools for the medical profession. They are used in almost every hospital in the United States, and for that matter, in the world. Beginning in the 1920's such devices have performed countless surgical procedures.This article brings into perspective the parameters of electrosurgical units and their effects. It defines the electrosurgical unit's external circuit path, and the effects created along this path due to physical phenomenon. Topics covered include radiated energy, conducted energy, and capacitive coupling effects which cause concern within the overall operating room environment.A discussion of precautionary techniques, present operating room equipment performance reviews, and plans for future equipment purchases is included in order to review what can be done to minimize the effects of high-frequency physical phenomenon. These topics are presented in order to stimulate thought so that decisions can be made based on common background material.A summary is included of what the future may hold for electrosurgery. A review of the clinical benefits is made and compared to new technological advances; particularly laser surgery, plasma scalpel, and cryosurgery. The conclusion is reached that the use of the high-frequency electrosurgical modality is here to stay and will not change dramatically in the near future.