Electrosurgery in podiatry is useful for treating such foot afflictions as plantar warts and persistent corns that have not responded successfully to more well-known treatments such as freezing or surgical removal.
A plantar wart is a wart caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) occurring on the sole or toes of the foot.
"Electrosurgery is rarely used in podiatry in Australia, though a few general medical practitioners do use it. Electrosurgery uses an active electrode to apply an alternating electrical current to body tissues to accurately destroy affected tissue, so it must be performed under local anaesthesia," observed Ms Caroline Robinson, a podiatry lecturer at the Charles Sturt University (CSU), Australia.
In a paper published in the latest edition of the prestigious Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association, Ms.Robinson discussed the techniques of electrosurgery, commonly used in USA and the UK but under-used in Australian podiatric clinics. Ms Robinson said.
"A real advantage of electrosurgery is that it causes less damage to the body cells than incisions using a scalpel and the technique can be performed by podiatrists rather than surgeons who might not be so readily available in regional areas."
Ms Robinson is currently trialling techniques that modify the surgical technique of 'electrodessication' to minimise the risks of infection and damage to the wound site after surgery and so reduce healing times.
"The appearance of laser surgery has made electrosurgical methods almost obsolete in dermatology, however using a laser is very costly and requires strict safety measures. Electrosurgery is an easy technique to master and is an efficient and relatively low-cost procedure, especially for use in podiatry.
"Electrosurgery is really worth considering as an alternative to invasive surgical treatment for many skin conditions of the feet, including plantar warts and corns."
Students in the podiatry program at CSU gain a valuable skill when they study electrosurgery as part of their degree, and the general public can access this podiatry service through the CSU Allied Health Clinic in Albury.