✓ The authors report on the development of an anterior cerebral artery pseudoaneurysm that hemorrhaged after monopolar coagulation for a ventricular catheter lodged in the interhemispheric fissure. After observing this complication, the authors developed a simple bench test that can be performed by any neurosurgeon to determine the safest coagulation parameters for any given diathermy unit. A modified grounding pad was placed in a beaker of a protein solution consisting of egg whites. Ventricular catheters were then placed in the solution, and a monopolar diathermy current was applied to a metal stylet at various wattages and for different durations of time. Inducing coagulation at 40 W with a diathermy unit produced flames emanating from around the pores of the catheter tip. Flash flames were also observed at 35 W, forming a coagulum of egg white for a distance of up to 1 cm from the catheter tip. All heat was dissipated through the holes of the first 16 mm of the catheter. At 20 W the flame was minimal and coagulation appeared adequate, whereas at 15 W only bubbles were seen around the tip together with suboptimal coagulum formation.
This technique is a simple and effective means of determining the optimal setting for monopolar diathermy and can be used to figure the optimal catheter coagulation wattage for a given diathermy unit. Considering the results of this study, the authors have lowered the current for coagulation in ventricular catheters to 20 W.