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How can a microwave save a frostbitten rabbit?

Tomsk University scientists have developed a device to treat frostbite

15-Apr-2015

Cases of frostbite account for about 10% of all trauma cases seen in the northern regions of Russia. Treatment can last for two or more months, and almost 90% of these injuries result in disability. However, Tomsk University scientists believe that in many cases the treatment process can be accelerated and frostbitten extremities can be saved. For several years they have been developing a device to treat frostbite.

“Microwave radiation delivers deep internal heating of the entire area,” says Gregory Dunaevsky, Professor of the Faculty of Radiophysics. “It is a well-known fact that frostbitten parts of the body can not be exposed to extreme heat from outside, because it can lead to the rupturing of deep vessels. But in the case of severe frostbite we cannot wait until the extremity reaches room temperature, because this risks incurring irreversible damage. Therefore we apply lengthy, costly treatments that do not always have a positive effect. Microwave radiation can quickly warm up the entire depth of the extremity. It is an effective and inexpensive way to save the injured organ.

The most available source of microwave radiation is the ordinary microwave oven. But that cannot be used, because the power it generates is too high. Even the "defrost" setting is not appropriate. It was necessary to modify the device to make it safe for living organisms and easy to use.

It took Vladimir Antipov, Yuri Tsiganok, and Anatoly Hlestunov from Tomsk University almost two years to modify the microwave oven. Scientists designed a complex attachment, which reduced the power of the radiation when it enters the chamber, where it freely circulates and heats the object from all sides. The output is equipped with a flexible sleeve that isolates a patient from radiation and through which the extremity is placed in the chamber.

This work has been conducted in collaboration with medical clinics at Tomsk Military Medical Institute. Its scientists led the experiments with rabbits, which were carried out at the clinics. The results were impressive - on the fourth day the experimental rabbits regained the use of their extremities.

“Now we have developed a new device that is not based on the microwave oven, but instead based on devices that can generate a microwave field with a much smaller power. Some are used not only in medicine but also for other purposes. We would like to create a portable device that could be used in ambulances and remote locations for medical assistance, because the sooner treatment starts, the better chance of full recovery we have” – Dunaevsky said.

It has already received three patents for development and a prototype version of the device has been designed. Now the main task for the developers is to find partners to collaborate with testing and help to complete the creation of this device that is so needed in Siberia and other regions of the world.

Facts, background information, dossiers
  • frostbite
  • Tomsk State University
  • microwave radiation
  • microwave ovens
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