Cautery can involve the use of heat, electricity or chemicals to destroy or cut tissue. In surgery, it serves two purposes:
- Stops bleeding by applying the tip of a surgical apparatus, such as a Bovie, to the bleeding end of a small blood vessel. The Bovie tip can also be applied to a metal instrument - such as forceps - that is holding the bleeding end of a vessel. The heat/electricity is conducted through the instrument to the end of the blood vessel instead of being applied directly, and the burned/destroyed tissue acts as a seal.
- Cuts tissue.