Definitions

diathermy

diathermy

[dahy-uh-thur-mee]
diathermy, therapeutic measure used in medicine to generate heat in the body tissues. Electrodes and other instruments are used to transmit electric current to surface structures, thereby increasing the local blood circulation and facilitating and accelerating the process of absorption and repair. Diathermy is used for arthritis, bursitis, and other disorders of the tendons and muscles, as well as for certain other conditions requiring tissue repair. Because of the high-frequency current used in shortwave diathermy, care must be taken to avoid burning the patient's skin or injuring the deeper tissues.

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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