The use of plasmakinetic cautery compared to conventional electrocautery for dissection of abdominal free flap for breast reconstruction: single-centre, randomized controlled study

Whitney T. H. Chow, Georgette Oni, Venkat V. Ramakrishnan, Mat Griffiths


Background: The plasmakinetic cautery is a surgical dissection instrument that combines scalpel-like cutting precision with electrocautery-like haemostasis properties, and operates at lower temperatures (40–170 °C) than conventional electrocautery (200–350 °C). The aim of this study is to evaluate the clinical benefits of using plasmakinetic cautery in abdominal free flap dissection for breast reconstruction.
Methods: Forty women undergoing abdominal-based microsurgical breast reconstruction (DIEP/MS-TRAM) were randomized to plasmakinetic cautery (n=20) or conventional electrocautery (n=20) for dissection of the abdominal free flap. Total abdominal wound drainage volume/duration, operation time and complications such as seroma and haematoma were examined.
Results: Age, body mass index, type of reconstruction and abdominal flap weight were similar in both groups. Mean abdominal drainage volume was (279±262) mL in conventional electrocautery group and (294±265) mL in plasmakinetic cautery group (P=0.853). Plasmakinetic cautery group mean drainage duration (4.3±2.2 days) was no difference compared to conventional diathermy group (3.8±2.0 days, P=0.501). Mean operation time in the conventional electrocautery group and plasmakinetic cautery group was 157±50 vs. 174±70 min respectively (P=0.195). There was more seroma detected in the conventional electrocautery group compared to plasmakinetic cautery group at days 7, 14 and 42 post-operation, but this was not statically significant. 2 haematomas in conventional diathermy group and 1 haematoms in the plasmakinetic cautery group required evacuation.
Conclusions: This study demonstrates that there are no significant differences between the use of plasmakinetic cautery and conventional electrocautery for abdominal free flap dissection.