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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Safety

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Diathermy Interactions with Implanted Electrical Leads

Audience: Neurological healthcare professionals, physiatrists, and other physical medicine specialists

FDA has received reports in which patients with implanted deep brain stimulators (DBS) died after receiving diathermy therapy. Laboratory testing has shown that patients with any implanted metallic lead are at risk of serious injury when exposed to shortwave or microwave diathermy therapy. This is true even if the implanted device is not turned on, and even if the lead is no longer connected to an implanted system. If you are a physician who implants or monitors patients with leads or implanted systems with leads, explain to the patient what diathermy is, and stress that they should NOT receive shortwave or microwave diathermy therapy. If you are a health care professional who uses diathermy (shortwave or microwave) in your practice, be sure to ask the patient about possible implants before deciding to administer shortwave or microwave diathermy therapy.

[December 19, 2002 - Public Health Notification - FDA]