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1. an apparatus for surgical dissection and hemostasis, using heat generated by a high-voltage, high-frequency alternating current passed through an electrode.
2. the cauterization of tissue using such an instrument.
bipolar electrocautery an electrocautery in which both active and return electrodes are incorporated into a single handheld instrument, so that the current passes between the tips of the two electrodes and affects only a small amount of tissue.
monopolar electrocautery (unipolar electrocautery) an electrocautery in which current is applied through a handheld active electrode and travels back to the generator through an inactive electrode attached to the patient (the grounding pad), so that the patient is part of the electrical circuit.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.