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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.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on diathermy, visit Britannica.com.