Histologic comparison of canine skin biopsies collected using monopolar electrosurgery, CO2 laser, radiowave radiosurgery, skin biopsy punch, and scalpel

Vet Surg. 2007 Jan;36(1):50-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-950X.2007.00234.x.


Objective: To compare the histologic appearance of canine skin biopsies collected by use of a scalpel, skin biopsy punch, monopolar electrosurgery, CO2 laser, and radio wave radiosurgery in fully rectified wave form (RWRS).

Study design: Experimental, randomized design.

Animals: Healthy adult grayhounds (n=4).

Methods: Skin biopsies were collected using 5 techniques. Cut margins of biopsy specimens and adjacent peripheral skin were evaluated using light microscopy to compare penetration of the dermis by tissue carbonization (char).

Results: No char occurred in skin specimens collected by biopsy punch and scalpel. Char penetration occurred in all specimens collected by electrosurgery, CO2 laser, and RWRS. Mean char penetration in skin biopsies collected by RWRS (0.158 mm) was significantly less than for monopolar electrosurgery (0.223 mm) and CO2 laser (0.215 mm). Mean char penetration in adjacent peripheral skin surrounding biopsies collected by RWRS (0.171 mm) was significantly less than monopolar electrosurgery (0.255 mm) but not less than CO2 laser (0.215 mm, P<.07).

Conclusions: RWRS (blended waves in cut-coagulate mode) caused less lateral thermal damage to canine skin biopsies than monopolar electrosurgery and CO2 laser and less lateral thermal injury to peripheral skin than monopolar electrosurgery.

Clinical relevance: Excision of canine skin biopsies with heat-generating devices may not allow reliable histologic interpretation, particularly when assessing margins of small biopsy specimens. RWRS may be less traumatic to canine skin than monopolar electrosurgery and CO2 laser when used to make incisions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biopsy / instrumentation
  • Biopsy / methods
  • Biopsy / veterinary*
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Dermatologic Surgical Procedures
  • Dogs / surgery*
  • Electrosurgery / instrumentation
  • Electrosurgery / methods
  • Electrosurgery / veterinary*
  • Laser Therapy / instrumentation
  • Laser Therapy / methods
  • Laser Therapy / veterinary*
  • Necrosis / veterinary
  • Radiosurgery / instrumentation
  • Radiosurgery / methods
  • Radiosurgery / veterinary*
  • Random Allocation
  • Skin / pathology*
  • Surgical Instruments / veterinary
  • Wound Healing


  • Carbon Dioxide