OBJECTIVES: To compare the use of an electrosurgical device with traditional cold instruments (scalpel and scissors) for midline celiotomy incision.
STUDY DESIGN: Prospective randomized controlled clinical trial.
SAMPLE POPULATION: One hundred and twenty client-owned dogs undergoing abdominal surgery.
METHODS: Dogs were prospectively recruited and randomized to receive electroincision or cold instrument incision. For cold incision, surgeons used basic surgical instruments including scalpel and scissors. For electroincision, surgeons only used the electrosurgical device in cutting mode. Time for the approach, blood loss, and the incision length were recorded. A blinded observer assessed pain and incision redness, swelling, and discharge at 24 and 48 hours postoperative (graded 0-3). Owner assessment of incision healing was recorded by telephone interview.
RESULTS: Blood loss during surgery was significantly lower for electroincision (mean 0.7, SD 1.7 mL) than cold incision (mean 3.0, SD 4.3 mL, P < .0001) with no significant difference in incision length or time for approach. Electroincision was associated with significantly less incision redness (cold median 1, range 0-3; electroincision median 0, range 0-2, P = .02) and less incision discharge (cold median 0.5 range 0-3; electroincision median 0, range 0-1, P = .006) at 24 hours postoperative. There was no significant difference in pain scores or incision healing in dogs receiving the two techniques. No incisional hernias were reported. A surgical site infection occurred in 1 dog (cold incision).
CONCLUSIONS: Electroincision for a celiotomy approach in the dog reduces blood loss, and incision redness and discharge in the immediate postoperative period without affecting the occurrence of wound complications such as infection and dehiscence (including linea alba).