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Fulguration is a medical procedure that involves using a high voltage electric current to destroy tissue. This procedure is performed to kill tumors, remove ulcers, and treat other types of lesions in and on the body. It is performed by a surgeon who has received specialized training in order to perform electrosurgery safely and effectively. Depending on the nature of the procedure, it may be performed in an operating room or surgical clinic.
In traditional fulguration, also known as electrofulguration, the surgeon holds an electrode shaped like a needle just over the area of the tissue involved. Sparks jump from the needle to the tissue, burning it in the process. The charred tissue is killed and cannot regrow. Using the electrode, the surgeon can carefully control the amount of tissue that is killed and the depth of the fulguration. The goal is to damage the tissue, not to remove it.
People may also use this term to refer to techniques using lasers. Medical lasers can be adjusted to perform a number of different functions including cauterizing tissue to stop bleeding, cutting through tissue, and damaging tissue so that it will not grow back. When lasers are used for fulguration, the surgeon selects the appropriate setting and positions the laser with care to target only the desired area and avoid damage to surrounding tissues.
The destruction of tissue with electric current is most commonly recommended in the case of oncology treatment. Fulguration can be used to destroy a tumor at the site and may be an option when it is not possible to remove a tumor with a resection procedure. It can also be used to thoroughly destroy the margins that surround a tumor in order to reduce the risk of recurrence. Other uses for fulguration can include obliterating ulcers and other lesions that cannot be surgically removed.
When fulguration is recommended to a patient as a treatment option, it can be helpful to ask why a surgeon is recommending it and what other treatment options may be available. Patients may also want to discuss possible treatment outcomes so that they have an idea about what to expect. Discussing surgical recovery before the surgery takes place is also recommended, as it gives patients an opportunity to prepare ahead of time. Talking to patients who have undergone the procedure can be helpful for people who are worried or who want some tips from someone who has successfully recovered.