Diathermy - Types and Application

Diathermy is a method of providing deep heat in the body by using high frequency short wave electric currents. The generation of heat in the body tissues is done by the passage of high frequency electric currents between two electrodes placed on the skin. It is used to treat many conditions such as chronic arthritis. The diathermy principle can also be used in surgical procedures. Here the diathermy knife is heated by the application of high frequency current which produces sufficient heat to cut tissues.

Low heat warns tissue to reduce muscle pain and high degrees of diathermy is used to destroy tissues and it is mainly used for surgical procedures. Diathermy can make the recovery faster as it causes the blood flow rate to increase. An advantage of diathermy is that it is a effortless process that can be administered at the clinic. Also the use of pain killers having side effects can be avoided as the diathermy can kill pain. When heat is applied to the hurting area, blood flow increases and cellular metabolism speed up. The increased metabolism and blood flow rate accelerates the tissue repair.
There are mainly three types of diathermy procedures. They are Short Wave Diathermy, Ultrasound Diathermy and Microwave Diathermy. These different techniques heat tissues at different depths for different purposes.

Short Wave Diathermy:


It is mainly used to treat body areas covered with a dense tissue of mass such as hip. In short wave diathermy, the body element to be treated is positioned between two capacitor plates. As the high frequency waves pass through the body tissues amid the plates, heat is produced. Most of the short wave diathermy machines function at a frequency about 27 Mhz. Contraction of muscles can be avoided by using currents of such high frequency and hence this method will be comfortable to the patients. In short wave diathermy as the body part to be treated is positioned between the plates, the passage of RF currents produces heat in the tissues due to the dielectric loss of capacitors.

Microwave Diathermy:


This is the easiest form of diathermy. This method uses microwaves to heat the tissue. Here the heating of tissue is done by absorbing microwave energy. But the disadvantage with the method is that they cannot penetrate deep muscles. Magnetron oscillators are mainly used in microwave diathermy procedures due to their high power level. No pads are used here and the microwave energy is directed to the concerned body parts directly.

Advantages of Diathermy:

1. Used in surgical procedures.
2. Normally it is a painless procedure.
3. It is used as a relief from various pains.
4. It is used as a method to prevent bleeding.
5. With diathermy procedures, the rate of blood flow increase which results in fast recovery.
6. Diathermy helps in relaxation.

Disadvantages of Diathermy:

1. The heat effect may cause injuries to eyes.
2. Patients with metal implants should be avoided from diathermy procedures.
3. Shortwave diathermy during pregnancy can cause many problems.
4. Diathermy may affect the function of pacemakers.
5. Some patients may experience superficial burns.

Diathermy Application:

1. Used as a cure from bacterial infection.
2. Diathermy can be used to treat arthritis
3. Particularly used during surgery such as neurosurgery.
4. Abnormal growths can be eliminated using diathermy.
5. Infected tissues are repaired fastly.


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