"Microneedle" electrocautery was compared against the standard-size needle electrocautery and the Shaw hemostatic scalpel to determine the differences in tissue necrosis when used as a cutting instrument. Incisions were made on the dorsal skin of anesthetized white rats using each of the three devices with the no. 15 scalpel as control. The specimens were submitted for histological evaluation. The microneedle caused less necrosis than the standard-size needle electrocautery (0.18 vs 0.27 mm, p < 0.01) and less necrosis than the Shaw hemostatic scalpel set at 220 degrees F (0.18 vs 0.25 mm, p < 0.05). The microneedle electrocautery was also found to be an instrument that causes very little tissue distortion during fine dissection and helps to minimize blood loss in craniofacial and neurosurgical operations.