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Diathermy Techniques: Zapping tissues with Tesla Coils

Mike [and others],
Diathermy Machines were used for almost everything, when high frequency 
currents were something "new".  At the turn of the century earlier, 
operating on people was either with a scalpel or incadescent hot platinum 
wire... somewhat crude and painful!  "Diathermy" was a new concept for the 
removal of cysts, growths, etc -- By using a high current - from a Tesla 
Coil that yields an inch spark or so, tissues could be "zapped" away, or 
"cooked" away.  I've done this by accident with my Diathermy Machine, and 
took a nice chunk out of my finger tip(!)...it was quite painful, but less 
so than a scalpel [I imagine]!
Virtually instant too!  By drawing current off of the Tesla Coil with a 
metal rod will prevent these rf burns, but you will instantly notice your 
whole arm feeling as if it was placed in an oven.  At higher currents, 
nothing will prevent burns, and ANY loose contact with the metal will cause 
a painful arc to the skin and an extremely painful burn.

My Fischer manual clearly demonstrates the cutting, coagulation, and 
fulguration of tissues on a strip steak!  No joke!  Better cook the steak 
than the patient, I guess... Needless to say these Diathermy Machines aren't 
recommended for home surgury!

Bipolar treatments used taps from the primary of the Tesla Coil.  This 
extremely high current rapidly heats tissue when passed through the body.

By using metal plates in conjunction with the patient, inner tissues could 
be heated by di-electric losses, with the patient forming the dielectric.  
The same concept is used these days for various industrial heating 
techniques of plastics.
[ha ha, heating of plastics is why a lot of condensers blow!  DRAT!]

By wrapping a coil of wire around a limb, the limb will be heated by 
eddy-current losses--same concept as induction heating of metals, and, with 
a much larger scale, induction furnaces.
A metal ring or jewelry will burn itself to the skin in one of these fields!

Later on came vacuum tube driven Tesla Coils, which heat the body MUCH more 
rapidly with less current by using undampened waves.  Tesla Coils give 
dampened currents.  Undamped currents WERE used at the turn of the century, 
mainly for surgery, and were generated with something called a [Duddell's] 
Singing Arc.  This consisted of 2 solid arc carbons, inductance, and 
resistance.  By varying the capacitance and inductance, the arc would "sing" 
at a different frequency.  I have yet to build one of these, but do plan on 

Diathermy Machines were also used with the infamous vacuum electrodes.  No 
part of the body was left safe -- electrodes were made for every body part 
and orifice imaginable... some places the LAST places you would want to 
conduct a Tesla Coil spark to!

The design of the Diathermy Machines was incredible.  The spark gaps, 
resonator coils, and general arrangements were extremely novel.  Some used 
flat spiral primaries AND secondaries, others used unique winding 
techniques, and the spark gaps were different for each manufacturer, all 
novel in their own respects.  Some didn't work worth a darn, and others were 
SUPERB! [Fischer is a FINE example!]

Lots of forgotten "technology" here... years of testing went into these 
machines.  Their efficiency is second to none.
See some machines on my web site:
Turn of the Century Electrotherapy Museum

Jeff Behary

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