The value of the bipolar electrocoagulator in the haemostasis of bleeding ulcers is controversial. We have therefore investigated the effect of different coagulation times on vessel weld strength achieved by the bipolar device. Welds were then made in vessels of known diameter using a standard 10F endoscopic haemostatic probe at coagulation times of two and 20 seconds. The intravascular temperature achieved at each time was measured. Vessel weld strength achieved by bipolar electrocoagulation was much greater at 20 seconds (approximately twice that at two seconds) and was highly significantly greater at all vessel diameters. There was a gradual reduction in weld strength with increasing vessel diameter, an effect that was seen for both two and 20 seconds of electrocoagulation. Intravascular temperature was significantly higher at 20 seconds than at two seconds. We conclude that vessel weld strength is related to coagulation time and that any future studies comparing the bipolar electrocoagulator with other haemostatic devices should use longer periods of bipolar electrocoagulation and record the coagulation time in order to optimise the clinical value of the device.
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