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Wart Removal by Electrosurgery and Wart Curettage

Warts are benign skin growths caused by infection with human papilloma virus, HPV.  Though harmless of themselves they may cause pain if they are located in sensitive areas such as near nail plates.  Many people are also embarrassed by the appearance of warts, and though they usually spontaneously vanish this can be a slow process; in extreme cases it may take up to 2 years before they disappear.


The surgical procedures to eradicate warts do not necessarily sound pleasant, but they can be effective. Wart electrosurgery involves passing a high frequency electric current through the wart to burn it.  The tissue is destroyed by the heat generated by the electric current.  The procedure is simple enough, and usually takes about 30 minutes to perform.


Electrosurgery Procedure

The wart, and the surrounding skin are thoroughly cleansed and a local anesthetic is administered.  A needle is heated by electricity which is then placed on the wart to burn it.  The procedure is also known as electrodessication. The doctor or surgeon will then remove the offending wart with a surgeon’s knife.  This is known as curettage.  Electrosurgey and wart curettage are usually offered in tandem. 


The reason so many people opt for electrosurgey is that the results can be seen immediately.  It has been observed to be particularly effective on filiform warts on the face and limbs (Sterling JC, Handfield-Jones S, Hudson PM.  Guidelines for the management of cutaneous warts.  Br J Dermatol 2001; 144: 4-11).  And overall success rates for wart removal by electrosurgery or thermocautery are 65-85% (Pringle WM, Helms DC.  Treatment of plantar warts by blunt dissection.  Arch Dermatol 1973; 8:70-82).


Electrosurgery Disadvantages

Electrosurgery can be used for single warts or a few warts, but not large areas where clusters of warts are located.  The procedure can leave scar tissue behind and recurrence cannot be ruled out.  Whilst the technique is successful in removing the growth or growths it does not treat the underlying viral cause and infection could occur again at any time.


A study in the Indian Journal of Dermatology compared electrosurgery with topical 5% 5-fluorourcil.  Whilst surgery yielded much quicker results it was deemed to be the less successful treatment of the two because of the relatively high recurrence rate – a mean 48% amongst the 25 test subjects (Dogra A et al.  Comparative efficacy of topical 5% 5-fluorouracil with electrosurgery in treatment of warts.  Indian Journal of Dermatology 2006; 51 (2): 1080110).


Though the recurrence rate in this study was high, the current belief is that an infection rate of up to 30% should be expected.

More About Warts

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duct tape wart removal
duct tape wart removal
duct tape wart removal