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The friendly fields of RF: Encouraged by successes in fusing fractured bones, researchers look to electromagnetic fields for healing wounds and shrinking tumors

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2 Author(s)
Robert E. Shape ; Indiana Univ. Sch. of Med., Bloomington, IN, USA ; Ned B. Hornback

RF fields affect biological systems in two principal ways: by generating heat (relatively strong fields) and by nonthermal mechanisms (weaker fields). The latter are used for bone healing. Treatment of congenial pseudoarthrosis of the tibia by pulsed electromagnetic fields has produced recovery rates exceeding 75%. Experiments on animals have shown that osteoporosis can be reversed by pulsed electromagnetic fields. While the mechanisms that promote bone healing and growth are not understood on the molecular level, some knowledge has been gained of how weak fields work on the cellular level. An account is given of various experiments showing that weak fields can also promote nerve regeneration and heal flesh wounds and hematomas. The use of RF heating to effect whole-body hyperthermia is explained. Studies showing that hyperthermia can reduce the ionizing radiating dose required in cancer treatment are described.

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IEEE Spectrum  (Volume:22 ,  Issue: 6 )