How Radio Frequency Plays An Essential Role in Medicine Today

Since the discovery of radio waves in 1887 by Heinrich Hertz, they have become a fundamental part of our daily society. Every single radio on the planet picks up AM/FM radio wave signals, and cell phones are only possible because of our understanding of radio waves.

Radio frequency also plays an important role in medicine today. Many treatments use radio waves, and radio frequencies are vital for a number of treatments.

LIPUS

Low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) is a technology that uses radio waves in the 1.5 MHz frequency to promote the healing of fractured bones, help to regrow teeth that have fallen out, enhance jaw growth in children suffering from hemifascial microsomia, speed up muscle repair after injuries, and enhance the repair of soft tissue – such as the cartilage between the vertebrae.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

MRI is an imaging technique used by doctors to be able to see the internal structures in the body, for the purpose of determining if there is damage or disease present. The radio waves take an image of the nuclei inside the human body, allowing a much more accurate image of what’s going on inside than a X-ray allows doctors to see. It is possible to see the contrast between the various types of soft and hard tissue, making it the most effective method of imaging inside the body.

Radiofrequency Ablation

This is a treatment recommended for those with chronic pain – such as is caused by lower back injuries, arthritis, and neck pains. It can provide a varying degree of pain relief, but more than 70% of patients that have undergone this treatment have reported improvements in their pain. The relief can last between 6 months to a year, providing a cessation of pain for those with serious problems.

RFA is a simple procedure, and yet it’s incredibly precise. To begin, a guidance system – ultrasound, MR, or CT scan – is used to direct the RFA probe as near to the source of pain as possible. Whether it’s a painful tumor, an arthritic joint, or damaged nerve endings from a back spasm, the PMIR Medical Center recommends using RFA as one of the best pain relief treatments due to its minimally invasive nature.

Once the source of pain has been located, the radiofrequency generator is turned on. The energy from the generator flows into the body’s tissues via the electrodes, and the tissue is heated. The heat is maintained for a predetermined amount of time – no more than a few minutes in most cases – and the heat destroys the cells that are causing the pain.

The temperature of the tissue is measured by thermocouples in the tip of the electrodes, ensuring that not too much heat is applied. Once the tissues have been heated long enough to kill off the cancerous cells or the cells causing the pain, the electrode is removed. The entire process usually takes little more than 10 to 15 minutes per 3 cm of ablation, as protein in the tissue is damaged if it is heated above 113 F (50 C).

The beauty of using this RFA treatment is that it is minimally invasive. The electrodes can be inserted through the skin, or doctors may opt for a laparoscopic approach – tiny incisions in which a very thin tube containing all the instruments is inserted. The rate of complications with this procedure is very low, and most complications are fairly minor. It can help to destroy tumors up to 7 centimeters large, and can be used both on new and old tumors. All in all, compared to many of the other cancer treatments, this is definitely one that’s best to consider – and it works wonders for arthritis-related joint pains as well.

If you have worries about a fertile future while receiving medical treatment, there are options including sperm and egg banks if you wish to be able to start a family or have additional children someday.

Written by Marianne S. Ross

Marianne S. Ross is a freelance writer and occasional blogger. If her article got you interested, feel free to follow or reach out to her via G+ or Facebook.