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What You Need to Know About Bipolar vs. Monopolar Electrosurgical Procedures for Your Veterinary Practice

By March 7, 2016August 2nd, 2022No Comments

Veterinary surgery has advanced beyond the traditional, conventional techniques, which focused on scalpels, for a myriad of surgical applications. Newer, energy-based techniques like electrosurgery have paved the way for faster and more efficient surgical procedures.

Electrosurgical Units, or ESUs, are becoming more popular with both routine and sophisticated veterinary procedures. Electrosurgical procedures help to reduce the time for anesthesia. In addition, less time is required for post-surgical healing. Today, ESUs are generally the accepted options for a number of veterinary procedures, including:

  • Dermal lesions treatment

  • Ear cropping

  • Emergency care

  • Eyelid surgery

  • Spay/Neutering

In fact, ESUs are used in more than 80 percent of all surgical procedures, including veterinary. Using the line of Bovie ESU products the benefits of electrosurgery vs traditional scalpel-based surgery are worth the transition, and include:

  • The ability to promptly stop bleeding

  • Reduced risk of hemorrhaging

  • Sophisticated, precision sculpting

  • Less recovery time required for pet patients

  • Less pet patient time spent in the facility

Bipolar vs Monopolar Procedural Differences

Instead of traditional procedures, utilizing scalpels, electrosurgery utilizes either bipolar or monopolar options with a high-frequency electrical current for cutting, coagulating, desiccating and fulgurating tissue. Each methodology requires specific instruments, and each has its own specific advantages. Understanding the differences in their individual modalities helps in understanding the differences in how they are applied.

There is one basic difference between bipolar and monopolar techniques. With monopolar electrosurgery, a probe electrode is used to apply the electrosurgical energy to the target tissue to achieve the desired surgical effect. The current then passes through the patient to a return pad and then back to the ESU generator to complete the circuit. With the bipolar electrosurgical method a bipolar device, often a set of forceps, is used. The electrical current passes from one side of the forcep, through the target tissue to the other side of the forcep, then back to the generator. The electrical current is restricted to the tissue between the forcep, therefore not requiring the use of a grounding pad.

Monopolar Electrosurgery

The effectiveness and versatility of monopolar electrosurgery makes it the most commonly used option. This type of electrosurgery offers a variety of electrosurgical waveforms that have different tissue effects. In a monopolar electrosurgical procedure, a pencil-like electrode is used to cut the target tissue and/or coagulate bleeding. A return electrode pad is utilized and attached to the patient and safely retrieves energy that passes through the body..

Bipolar Electrosurgery

Bipolar electrosurgery offers a more concentrated energy to a very specific area of tissue. What’s more, bipolar electrosurgery presents a significant reduction in the risk of patient burns. This method is exceptional for particular procedures like ear cropping and other procedures that allow easy access to both sides of the tissue. Using the bipolar technique no return pad is required because the current only passes through the tissue, not the patient’s entire body. Whether choosing the bipolar method or the monopolar method, electrosurgery is a more efficient way to maximize effectiveness. The benefits far exceed traditional methods.

Our free eBook, “A Veterinarian’s Guide to Electrosurgery eBook,” offers a wealth of information. In addition, we have other resources you may find beneficial.

At, we strive to be on the forefront of advanced medical technology for animal health applications.