diathermy

diathermy
/duy"euh therr'mee/, n. Med.
the production of heat in body tissues by electric currents, for therapeutic purposes.
Also, diathermia /duy'euh therr"mee euh/.
[ < G Diathermie (1909). See DIA-, -THERMY]

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Use of high-frequency electric current for deep heating of tissues in physical therapy.

Shortwave, ultrasound, and microwave diathermy heat tissues at different depths for different purposes. Low heat warms tissue to ease muscle pain. Higher degrees of diathermy destroy tissue; this is useful in surgery, particularly on the eye or nerves, to coagulate, limit bleeding, and seal off traumatized tissues.

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▪ medicine and therapeutics
      form of physical therapy (physical medicine and rehabilitation) in which deep heating of tissues is accomplished by the use of high-frequency electrical current. American engineer and inventor Nikola Tesla (Tesla, Nikola) in 1891 first noted that heat resulted from irradiation of tissue with high-frequency alternating current (wavelengths somewhat longer than the longest radio waves) and pointed out its possible medical uses. K.F. Nagelschmidt, a German physician, in 1909 coined the term diathermy, meaning “heating through.”

      Three forms of diathermy are in wide use by physical therapists in hospitals and clinics: shortwave, ultrasound, and microwave. In shortwave diathermy, the part to be treated is placed between two condenser plates, and the highest temperature is concentrated in the subcutaneous tissues. Shortwave usually is prescribed as treatment for deep muscles and joints and is sometimes used to localize deep inflammatory disease. Ultrasound diathermy uses high-frequency acoustic vibrations; their heating effect increases circulation and metabolism and speeds up the rate of ion diffusion across cellular membranes. During treatment the apparatus is moved slowly across the surface of the area to be affected. Ultrasound is used to heat selected muscles that are too deep to be significantly affected by surface heating. Microwave diathermy uses radiation of very high frequency and short wavelength similar to that used in microwave ovens; all physiologic responses are due to its heating effect.

      Depending on the amount of heat generated, diathermy can be used to merely warm or to destroy tissue. In the first instance, it is particularly beneficial in relieving muscle soreness and sprain. In the second, as an adjunct to surgery, diathermy is used to coagulate, prevent excessive bleeding, and seal off traumatized tissues. It is particularly effective in eye surgery and neurosurgery. Diathermy therapy is also used effectively to treat back pain, to remove warts and moles, and to destroy or localize bacterial infection of tissues. See also physical medicine and rehabilitation.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Diathermy — Intervention ICD 9 CM 93.34 MeSH …   Wikipedia

  • diathermy — [dī′ə thʉr΄mē] n. [ModL diathermia < Gr dia , through + thermē, heat: see WARM] medical treatment in which heat is produced beneath the skin by a high frequency electric current, radiation, etc., to warm or destroy tissue …   English World dictionary

  • diathermy — n. the production of heat in a part of the body by means of a high frequency electric current passed between two electrodes placed on the patient s skin. The principle of diathermy is also utilized in various surgical instruments to coagulate… …   The new mediacal dictionary

  • Diathermy — The use of heat to destroy abnormal cells. Also called cauterization or electrodiathermy. * * * Local elevation of temperature within the tissues, produced by high frequency current, ultrasonic waves, or microwave radiation. SYN: transthermia. [G …   Medical dictionary

  • diathermy — A procedure in which tissue is heated to destroy abnormal cells. The heat may come from electric currents, microwaves, radio waves, or ultrasound. Diathermy is a type of hyperthermia therapy. Also called electrodiathermy …   English dictionary of cancer terms

  • diathermy — noun Etymology: International Scientific Vocabulary Date: 1909 the generation of heat in tissue by electric currents for medical or surgical purposes • diathermic adjective …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • diathermy — noun The generation of heat using high frequency electromagnetic currents; especially the therapeutic production of heat in tissues …   Wiktionary

  • diathermy — di·a·ther·my || daɪəθɜːmɪ n. treatment of diseased tissue using heat …   English contemporary dictionary

  • diathermy — [ dʌɪəˌθə:mi] noun a medical and surgical technique involving the production of heat in a part of the body by high frequency electric currents. Origin early 20th cent.: from dia + Gk thermon heat …   English new terms dictionary

  • diathermy — di·a·ther·my …   English syllables

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