Effects of electrocautery on transvenous lead insulation materials

Kiam Khiang Lim, Shantanu Reddy, Shrojal Desai, Matthew Smelley, Susan S. Kim, John F. Beshai, Albert C. Lin, Martin C. Burke, Bradley P. Knight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Effects of Cautery on Lead Insulations. Introduction: Insulation defects are a leading cause of transvenous lead failure. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of electrocautery on transvenous lead insulation materials. Methods: A preparation was done to simulate dissection of a transvenous lead from tissues. Radiofrequency energy was delivered using a standard cautery blade at outputs of 10, 20, and 30 W, for 3 and 6 seconds, using parallel and perpendicular blade orientations on leads with outermost insulations of silicone rubber, polyurethane, and silicone-polyurethane copolymer. Damage to each lead segment was classified after visual and microscopic analysis. Results: Significant insulation damage occurred to almost all polyurethane leads. Full insulation breaches were observed with 30 W regardless of application duration with a parallel direction and with all power outputs with a perpendicular direction. Thermal insulation damage to copolymer insulation was similar to that of the polyurethane leads. In contrast, there was no thermal damage to silicone leads, regardless of the power output and duration of power delivery. However, mechanical insulation damage was observed to all silicone leads when at least 20 W was applied in a direction perpendicular to the lead. Conclusions: Polyurethane (PU55D) and copolymer materials have low thermal stability and are highly susceptible to thermal damage during cautery. Implanting physicians should be aware of the lead insulation materials being used during implant procedures and their properties. The use of direct contact cautery on transvenous leads should be minimized to avoid damage to the lead, especially on leads with polyurethane or copolymer outer insulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-435
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of cardiovascular electrophysiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2009


  • Defibrillator
  • Electrocautery
  • Insulation
  • Leads
  • Pacemaker
  • Transvenous

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of electrocautery on transvenous lead insulation materials'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this