Tools of the trade: Ellman Surgitron radio surgical unit


ellmanReview by Dr Philip Sacks, Bird Vet Melbourne, Burwood, VIC

We’re an avian specialist practice that performs a lot of avian surgery. We aim for relatively bloodless surgery and this unit is one of my favourite surgical tools. It’s able to cut and coagulate with minimal lateral damage to the surrounding tissue and limit blood loss. It’s the first instrument we set up for avian surgeries.


What’s good about it

One of the biggest causes of death in avian anaesthesia is blood loss. Ideally, we want a bloodless field as many of the smaller patients only have a few millilitres of blood. In many cases, the blood vessels are so tiny it’s impossible to put a ligature around them.

The radiosurgical unit can be set to cut and coagulate simultaneously. This unit has improved our surgical success rate and made it possible to do things we could never do in the past. Whether removing a lump or repairing a fracture, whenever potential bleeding is involved, we’ll use this unit.

There are different ways to use the Ellman unit but I mainly use the bipolar function. It looks like very fine forceps that, when touched together, cut and coagulate. Our Ellman Surgitron is about 27 years old and a real workhorse. In an avian specialist practice, it’s a really indispensable tool.


What’s not so good

Our unit has a foot switch that’s very functional. However, the newer models have a hand switch that allows the veterinarian to work more ergonomically.


Where did you get it

From Ellman USA at an avian conference in Hawaii. New units are available from Medtel (

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