ICD-9-CM 93.34
MeSH D003972

In the natural sciences, the term diathermy means "electrically induced heat" and is commonly used for muscle relaxation. It is also a method of heating tissue electromagnetically or ultrasonically for therapeutic purposes in medicine.


Surgical uses

Surgical diathermy is usually better known as "electrosurgery." (It is also referred to occasionally as "electrocautery", but see disambiguation below). Electrosurgery and surgical diathermy involve the use of high frequency A.C. electrical current in surgery as either a cutting modality, or else to cauterize small blood vessels to stop bleeding. This technique induces localized tissue burning and damage, the zone of which is controlled by the frequency and power of the device. Some sources[1] insist that electrosurgery be applied to surgery accomplished by high frequency A.C. cutting, and that "electrocautery" be used only for the practice of cauterization with heated nichrome wires powered by D.C. current, as in the handheld battery-operated portable cautery tools.


Diathermy was used for the first time on gynecology by the spanish doctor Celedonio Calatayud in 1910.


Medical Diathermy devices were used to cause interference to German radio beams used for targeting night time bombing raids in WWII during the Battle of the Beams.

See also


  1. ^ Valleylab article on Principles of Electrosurgery/Electrocautery

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • 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 — /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] * * * Use of high frequency electric current… …   Universalium

  • 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 machine — noun a medical instrument for local heating of bodily tissues for medical purposes (Freq. 1) • Hypernyms: ↑medical instrument • Hyponyms: ↑microwave diathermy machine, ↑shortwave diathermy machine …   Useful english dictionary

  • 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

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