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February 19, 1927


Author Affiliations

Associate Attending Surgeon, Michael Reese Hospital; Assistant in Surgery, Northwestern University Medical School; Fellow in Surgery, Michael Reese Hospital CHICAGO
From the Otto Baer Fund for Clinical Research of the Michael Reese Hospital.

JAMA. 1927;88(8):532-537. doi:10.1001/jama.1927.02680340004002

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Diathermy, from the Greek meaning to heat through, is the name introduced by Nagelschmidt for the therapeutic application of the high frequency current. By the latter is meant a current that changes its direction 10,000 times or more a second. Currents above this frequency will not produce the physiologic stimulation of the tissue; that is, the neuromuscular response produced by low frequency or direct current. As is commonly employed therapeutically today, the frequency of the current varies from 1,000,000 to 2,500,000 per second. The voltage in these currents is usually from 3,000 to 10,000.

It is asserted that the high frequency current was first discovered by an American, W. J. Morton, and reported by him, Jan. 24, 1891. D'Arsonval, however, who read his first paper on the subject, Feb. 24, 1891, is commonly credited with its discovery and was certainly the first to use this current therapeutically. Shortly afterward, in

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