Healing characteristics of mouse skin wounds induced with a plasma scalpel are examined and compared with the healing of similar steel scalpel wounds. The tissue response to the plasma scalpel incision corresponds to local heat injury, and results in necrosis of the epithelium approximately 3.0 mm on either side of the lesion. The residual scars from plasma scalpel wounds are three times larger than corresponding steel scalpel scars. Epithelial migration is successful in isolating necrotic from living tissue in both types of wounds. The onset and completion of epithelial migration in plasma scalpel wounds are delayed by approximately 36 hr and 4-8 days, respectively, in comparison to steel scalpel wounds. The initial inflammatory response is well removed from the plasma scalpel wound margin, but occurs directly at the margin of steel scalpel wounds. This difference results from the existence of vascular damage near the plasma scalpel incision. The inflammatory response in plasma scalpel wounds is initially less intense than the response in steel scalpel wounds. However, the overall inflammatory response in plasma scalpel wounds is, in time, more intense due to the larger amount of necrotic tissue. The significant result in this study is that a wound induced by the plasma scalpel in mouse skin does heal without undue complications.
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