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Karl D. Lewis, MD

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Skin Cancer and Cardiac Devices: Battery-Powered Electrocautery and Curettage Versus Electrodessication and Curettage

By: Cordi Craig, MS
Posted: Friday, July 29, 2022

Electrodesiccation with curettage uses high-voltage, high-frequency current without a dispersive electrode to treat patients with non-melanoma skin cancer, especially in rural communities to reduce added trips for patients. Although infrequent, previous studies have reported that this treatment may cause risks to patients who have implantable electronic cardiac devices (IECDs) by inappropriately triggering rhythms and causing interference. Battery-powered electrocautery and curettage uses thermal energy without delivering electrical current, lowering the risks of interference with cardiac devices. Kevin K. Veverka, MD, and Erik J. Stratman, MD, of Marshfield Clinic Health System, Wisconsin, analyzed whether cure rates were comparable among patients with non-melanoma skin cancers and IECDs who were treated with battery-powered electrocautery and curettage versus hyfrecation. The study was published as a research letter in JAMA Dermatology.

“The results of this study suggest that non-melanoma skin cancers treated with battery-powered electrocautery and curettage have cure rates comparable to those of electrodesiccation with curettage,” the authors concluded.

The researchers retrospectively reviewed medical records of patients with IECDs who were treated with battery-powered electrocautery and curettage versus electrodessication with curettage. Patient and control samples were matched 1:2. Overall, 86 patients (167 tumors) were treated with battery-powered electrocautery and curettage, and 252 patients (334 tumors) were treated with electrodessication with curettage. Medical records and follow-up evaluations were conducted at Marshfield Clinic Health System dermatology locations.

The procedural techniques and workflows of both procedures were nearly identical. The 5-year recurrence rates of non-melanoma skin cancers removed by battery-powered electrocautery and curettage versus electrodessication with curettage among patients with IECDs did not significantly differ (3.6% vs. 4.2%, respectively; P = .94).

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.


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