Healing of canine skin incisions made with monopolar electrosurgery versus scalpel blade

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To determine the influence of monopolar electrosurgery in cutting mode set at 10, 20, or 30 W on surgery time, hemostasis, and healing of cutaneous wounds compared to scalpel incisions.

Study design:

Randomized blinded control trial.


Dogs (n = 15).


Four skin incisions were created on either side of the dorsal midline with a scalpel, or monopolar electrosurgery at 10, 20, and 30 W. Surgical time and incisional bleeding were measured. Each incision was assessed daily for edema, erythema and discharge, and complications. Healing was evaluated via histology at 7 days. Results were analyzed for significance at P ≤ .05.


Surgical time and hemostasis were improved in all electrosurgery groups. Erythema was reduced in all electrosurgical incisions for days 1-4, but was greater in wounds created via electrosurgery at 20 W than those made with a scalpel blade by day 7. No difference was noted in the degree of edema or presence of wound discharge. All histologic variables of tissue healing were lower in electrosurgical incisions than scalpel incisions (P < .001). Ten incisional complications occurred, all associated with electrosurgery.


The use of monopolar electrosurgery at 10, 20, and 30 W in a cutting waveform improved hemostasis and surgical time when incising canine skin, but delayed healing and increased complications within the first 7 days compared to scalpel incisions.

Clinical significance:

Although monopolar electrosurgery improved hemostasis and surgery times, this modality is not recommended to create skin incisions.

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