Energizing Richard Wolf E-Line Stricture Blades Can Result in Electrosurgical Burns

February 1, 2011 | Evaluations & Guidance


An ECRI Institute investigation of a patient electrosurgical burn has revealed that when stricture blades produced by Richard Wolf Medical Instruments Corporation are installed in the company’s E-Line resectoscopes, they make an electrical connection, just as E-Line electrosurgical electrodes do. Although the blades are not intended for electrosurgical applications, once they are connected it is possible to apply electrosurgical current to them. Because the blades are not electrically isolated from the resectoscope, applying current causes the entire resectoscope to become energized, which, as occurred in the case we investigated, can result in poor or absent electrosurgical effect at the blade tip as well as alternate-site electrosurgical burns.

Richard Wolf E-Line stricture blades (which are also referred to as “stricture scalpels”) are marketed for use with E-Line endoscopy products, including resectoscopes. As the photo below shows, the blades are quite similar in appearance to Richard Wolf E-Line electrosurgical electrodes. For example, the mounting brackets that slide onto the endoscope component of the resectoscope are the same on the electrodes and stricture blades; the proximal ends that install into the electrical socket of the resectoscope’s working element are also identical. Based on appearance, we believe that the blades could easily be mistaken for electrodes.

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