Electrosurgery is the use of high frequency electrical energy in the radio transmission frequency band applied directly to tissue to induce histological effects.
Like laser treatment, electrosurgery is thermo-dynamic and develops heat directly within tissue cells. Unlike laser however, electrosurgery works over the entire surface of the electrode tip in contact with tissue, which makes it ideal for sculpting living tissue particularly in prosthodontics.
“Radiosurgery” is a type of ionizing radiation oncology treatment. However, the term is sometimes used in a dental context to refer to high frequency electrosurgical units as a way to distinguish them from the lower frequency electrosurgical units commonly used in general surgery.
Cautery is the application of external heat to tissue to induce a controlled third degree burn. Neither lasers nor electrosurgery are cautery devices, and the term “electro-cautery”, when applied to electrosurgery, is erroneous.