We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Cauterization?

Tricia Christensen
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Cauterization is an ancient medical practice that is still in use currently. It involves creating burns on body tissue to either close wounds or stop bleeding, or to remove part of the body. People are most likely to think of medical doctors using this practice long ago to apply hot metal after amputation. This practice would close wounds and stop bleeding because the heat would make the blood clot. A related term, cautery, can mean placing a brand on a human, which was a practice that was also common for punishment, as decoration in certain cultures, or to mark humans as property.

One of the people recognized in the treatment methods using cauterization is the Andalusian physician, Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi, who lived in the 10th century. He developed special tools called cauters for use to stop bleeding of arteries. Interestingly, there is some prohibition in Islamic thought, though it is not universally applied, that burning the body in this manner may be sinful.

In modern medicine, this practice is used with great frequency, but the methods have changed. Burning is usually accomplished via one of two routes, either by the use of electricity or with chemicals. When electrical pulses are used, this is called electrocauterization, and it’s often used to destroy tissues and make sure that small arteries or veins don’t bleed excessively from the removal of tissues. Certain surgeries, like the mastectomy, employ this method. Another common use of electrocauterization is through cardiac ablation, which can eliminate damaged tissue from the heart to restore a more regular heartbeat.

Chemical cauterization is also used, and although there is some concern that the skin might absorb some of the chemicals, substances like silver nitrate are still widely in use. Small growths, like warts or moles, may be burned off with such chemicals. One odd chemical used in this practice is cantharidin, which is produced by blister beetles.

Another method gaining in popularity is the use of lasers to remove tissue. Some medical professionals may prefer this method to chemicals or electrocauterization, since the removal of tissue can be extremely precise and localized. Improvement in this technology means that all methods for sealing or removing tissue are very effective and safe, however.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon212583 — On Sep 07, 2011

I had a pin sized hole in my bladder cauterized, and it sure was a lot better than going through major surgery to fix the fistula!

By fify — On May 01, 2011

Cauterization is used to dry out infections too. My dad had to have it done on a fistula in his mouth. He had a tooth infection and since it wasn't treated in time, it ended up reaching the skin and draining out.

They had to treat the tooth that was infected but also cauterized the fistula to stop the infection and drainage. He had to take a lot of antibiotics too.

By SteamLouis — On Apr 28, 2011

I had cauterization for my nose because it was bleeding too often. I suffer from a lot of allergies and the bleeding happened usually after sneezing or when I blew my nose.

I was a bit worried about the procedure, but it was surprisingly easy and was not painful. I was given local anesthesia and the doctor used an electrocautery needle. I didn't even realize when it was over, it only took a few minutes. I don't have nose bleeds anymore.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.