Radiofrequency in otolaryngology

From Otolaryngology Online


Radiowaves have been used surgically to reduce tissue bulk. Radiofrequency device generates electromagentic waves of very high frequency between 350 kHz and 4 MHz. Usually 460 KHz is used. Radio frequency is usually delivered to the surgical site by various probes. The probe when inserted into the tissues causes ionic agitation, heats up the tissues resulting in protein coagulation and tissue necrosis. It produces no charring. Scar formation that occurs later causes a reduction in the size of the tissue in 3 weeks time. The temperature of the probe is controlled between 80-85 degrees centigrade.

The parameters of RF are:

1. Power in watts

2. Temperature in celsius

3. Resistance in Ohms

4. Treatment time in seconds

5. Total energy delivered in joules (watt x seconds)

All these parameters can be controlled via the control panel attached to the device.

Types of RF units:

Single frequency units:

One that operates at a low frequency between 1-2.9 MHz

One that operates at high frequencies i.e more than 3 MHz

Dual frequencies:

These machines operate at both low and high frequencies i.e 1.7 and 4 MHz

Important advantages of Radiofrequency:

1. Does not direct stimulate nerves / cardiac muscle and hence can be used even without GA.

2. It does not cause collateral damage

Uses in otolaryngology:

1. To perform tonsillectomy

2. To perform turbinate reduction

3. To perform UPPV