Traditional Cautery: A Narrative Review on Modern Cauteries through Old Window

Background: Traditional cautery is a well-known healing practice used in many diseases in diverse cultures of the world since ancient times. Traditional healers, practitioners and professionals continuously improved several structural and procedural perspectives of this practice over centuries. However, numerous modern cauteries and related devices used in modern surgery began to be developed by Bovie and Harvey in late 19th century.

Objective: This critical review describes briefly modern cauteries (new lights) used in modern surgery that work on the same principles of traditional cautery (old window).

Methods: E-searches of relevant data (2000-2019) published in PubMed, MEDLINE, Google Scholar, ScienceDirect and OvidSP databases were made using the Boolean operators and keywords. Finally, 91 articles were retained for this narrative review.

Results: Several important components of traditional cautery were progressively developed and improved by traditional healers and professionals and this developmental process continued in modern surgery since 1988. Heating of traditional cautery by fire was replaced by electric current in innumerable modern cautery devices that generate variable energy power density for effectively destroying diseased tissue together with other related functions with minor adverse effects and complications.

Conclusion: Although electrocautery and electrosurgery units with wider applications in medical and other sciences use electric current in different ways to produce energy for cutting and removing the intended unwanted tissue in modern surgical settings around the world, traditional cautery mother of modern cauteries is still used by healers mainly in the eastern world. Both are associated with adverse effects and complications, and this perspective is calling for future research to rectify the associated technical snags in modern surgery.

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