Tools Test Drive: Electro Lube and WiCAM
This anti-stick solution is designed to keep instruments clean.
Core surgical rule: hemorrhage bad; hemostasis good. With that insightful gem out of the way, let’s turn our focus to electrosurgery, in which electrical current is employed to coagulate bleeding blood vessels by denaturing blood and blood vessel proteins. While that technique is generally effective, the process often results in unwanted sticking and char build-up on the coagulating device. Because both of those effects are detrimental to achieving hemostasis, preventing them is important. Electro Lubeis that prevention in a bottle.
Approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2004, Electro Lubeis typically recognized by surgeons as “that yellow goop” that is applied to Da Vinci monopolar scissors to minimize the risk of current arcing. While it is helpful for minimizing arcing, its real modus operandi is preventing sticking and char buildup during electrosurgery. Derived from soybean oil, it is a lecithin-based phospholipid mixture that is non-synthetic, non-flammable, and non-allergenic. It comes in a sterile single-use 8-cc plastic vial and is applied to the tip of any electrosurgical instrument prior to the instrument’s use.
In clinical use, Electro Lubeworked exactly as expected. In my parlance, it was just like good sports referees: If you don’t notice them, they are doing their job. In our operating room (OR), the Storz RoBi bipolar Maryland forceps is our go-to coagulation workhorse. With Electro Lubeapplied, I have yet to need to clean an instrument during a case or to experience sticking to tissues.
Instrument sticking and char build up is definitely a real problem in certain coagulation-heavy procedures. When there is active bleeding, you really want a fully functional coagulation instrument and Electro Lubeis the “grease that helps the wheel turn.” In addition, less char build-up means less scraping and less scraping means less damage to expensive, delicate surgical instruments. Given all these pluses, I think this soybean oil byproduct is pretty clever.
I don’t think that a bottle of Electro Lubeneeds to be opened for every OR case but I do think every OR needs to stock it. In this day and age, surgery—particularly minimally invasive surgery—is too refined to allow something as common as char build-up to reduce an instrument’s functionality when something as simple as Electro Lubeis readily available.