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Radio Frequency Medical Glossary

Medical Device Radio-communications Service (MedRadio)

A specification and RF spectrum assigned by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for medical implants and body-worn medical devices; Devices operating on MedRadio include cardiac pacemakers, drug delivery systems, defibrillators and neuromuscular stimulators. See glossary entry for Mics/Meds (Medical data Service). Read more

Medical Micro-Power Networks (MMNs)

Networks of devices implanted in the human body that, in a controlled manner, utilize electric stimulation to activate and monitor nerves and muscle tissue for diagnostic and therapeutic/rehabilitative purposes; the implanted devices in a MMN are wirelessly linked to a control transmitter device outside the body using RF channels. This use of MMNs – known as  Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) – has been found to measurably facilitate or improve limb mobility and other bodily functions (e.g. respiratory, sexual, bladder, bowel) affected by spinal cord injury or motor neuron damage. Read more

Mics/Meds (Medical data Service)

A specification and RF sub-spectrum assigned by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) for medical implants and body-worn medical devices; Devices operating on this sub-spectrum include cardiac pacemakers, drug delivery systems, defibrillators and neuromuscular stimulators. See glossary entry for Medical Device Radiocommunications Service (MedRadio).

Radio Frequency (RF)

Any one of the electromagnetic wave frequencies that lie in the range from around 3 kilohertz (KHz) to 300 gigahertz (GHz). Electromagnetic waves in this frequency range are known as radio waves. Read More

Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA)

Medical procedures based on the targeted lesioning of human tissue, using heat generated by radio waves introduced via electrodes. RFA is employed to treat an array of physical ailments.

Radio Frequency (RF) Allocation

A governmental (regulatory or legislative) designation of an RF band for a particular category of use (e.g., cellular mobile transmission, radio broadcast, television broadcast, inter-satellite communications, submarine communications etc.); alternatively, the licensing of an RF channel to a particular entity for private, commercial or public use. RF allocation and licensing requirements are relevant for all RF based medical technologies.

RFA for Arrhythmia

Radio Frequency ablation procedure used to correct certain kinds of tachycardia (rapid heartbeat) – such as atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, atrial tachycardia; most often used to treat supraventricular tachyarrhythmias.

RFA for Cancer

The use RF energy to destroy cancer cells. RFA is generally used when surgical excision of cancer tissue is considered to be high risk for the patient. RFA is typically used in cases of bone, kidney, liver, lung and prostate cancers; it is sometimes used to treat precancerous cells in the esophagus. Read more

RFA for Chronic Pain Management

Treats degenerative disc disease and relieves chronic pain (in the neck, back, legs or arms) by lesioning the relevant nerve tissue. RFA induced pain alleviation may be eroded upon nerve regeneration, requiring an iteration of the procedure to maintain pain relief. See glossary entries for Neurotomy and Rhizotomy.

Home RF pain device

The Silk’N Therapy Relief uses three technologies, Bipolar RF, Low Light Laser Therapy (LLLT), and Dual Optical Energy to reduce swelling, increase blood circulation, and treat chronic pain, menstrual pain, sports injuries, and traumatic injuries.

Radio Frequency (RF) Band

A defined subset of contiguous RF channels in the RF spectrum, all of which are pre-assigned to carry communications belonging to a common class of use.  A number of RF bands are exclusively designated for the use of wireless medical devices and telemetry systems.  See entry for RF allocation.

Radio Frequency (RF) Channel

Any singular electromagnetic wave characterized by one constant frequency in the RF spectrum, upon which audio/visual information may be overlaid for transmission - sometimes referred to as a carrier frequency or carrier wave. Wireless medical devices operate on RF channels belonging to the RF bands allocated for that purpose.

Radio Frequency (RF) Current

An electric current oscillating at any frequency in the RF spectrum. RF medical systems employ pulsed and/or continuous RF currents.

Radio Frequency De-Modulation

The process of extracting audio/visual data from an RF signal, by separating the input signal from its carrier frequency; undoing the RF modulation process that resulted in the RF signal. RF de-modulation capacity is built into the transmission protocol of wireless medical telemetry systems and other RF based medical devices Wireless See entry for Radio Frequency modulation.

Radio Frequency Dermatosurgery

A variant of RF ablation, high-frequency electrosurgery (also called radiosurgery) induces thermal destruction of targeted tissue - subcutaneous, dermal or epidermal. By decreasing the amperage of alternating current so as to create low intensity oscillating waves, high frequency dermatosurgery leaves minimal scarring. RF dermatosurgical techniques are used to: excise cysts/abscesses for diagnostic purposes; treat viral warts and benign skin conditions (freckles, acne, dermatitis); remove malignant skin tumors.

Radio Frequency Engineering in Bio-Instrumentation

A subfield of electrical engineering that deals with devices that are designed to operate in the radio frequency (RF) spectrum. RF engineering principles are often utilized by biomedical engineers in bioinstrumentation – i.e. the development RF based medical devices and techniques.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

The use of radio waves to positively identify, track the movements of, locate or operate a particular object pre-tagged to emit a RF signal unique to it. Depending on the RFID system employed, an RFID reader can effectuate short-range or long-range engagement with a tagged object. (Common uses of RFID technology include toll collection; the activation of electronic gates; inventory management; the identification or tracking of automobiles, pets, computer equipment; the supervision of pets, children, dementia patients etc.)

Radio Frequency Interference (RFI)

1.A disturbance of an RF-based medical system from an external electromagnetic source, serving to limit the range of transmission or distort the information carried in the system. RFI effects on medical devices have been mitigated by: RFI Compatibility standards applied to their manufacture; RFI prevention methods implemented at medical facilities and the patient's home/work surroundings; the placement of warning signs in public areas where RFI is distinctly possible.

Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) Susceptibility

The degree to which a (medical) device's functioning tends to be diminished or disrupted when exposed to RFI.

Radio Frequency Modulation

The process of overlaying the RF carrier wave with an (analog or digital) input signal – representing the audio/visual data to be transmitted. The resultant modulated wave is a ready-for- transmission RF signal, whose physical characteristics are unique to the inputted audio/visual data. RF modulation capacity is built into the transmission protocol of wireless medical telemetry systems and other RF based medical devices.

Radio Frequency Noise

A random disturbance affecting an RF signal. The RF system design of bioinstrumentation often compensates for error induced by certain kinds of noise (such as phase noise).

Radio Frequency (RF) Safety

The elimination of harmful RF system related radiation effects on the human environment. U.S. and European regulatory authorities publish RF safety rules and recommendations for manufacture and use, intended to lower the radiation absorption rates in humans [specific absorption rates (SAR)] from RF based medical devices to non-harmful levels. To date, regulatory efforts regarding medical devices have been focused on higher risk MRI scanning technology. Read more

A noninvasive technique utilizes RF energy to contract and destroy existing collagen. The resultant regenerative healing process, associated with the production of new collagen and elastin, yields firmer and more elastic skin.

Face and Neck skin tightening

A device that uses radiofrequency instead of light for a nonablative (non-wounding) treatment that tightens skin of the face and neck by stimulateing the growth of new collagen fibers. This type of treatment requires no healing time.

Radio Frequency (RF) Spectrum

The complete range of electromagnetic wave frequencies between 3 KHz to 300 GHz. This spectrum contains a number of radio frequency bands allotted for the use of wireless medical devices and telemetry systems.

'Radio Frequency Wireless Technology in Medical Devices'

A U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) guidance document outlining considerations affecting the design, testing and use of medical devices that incorporate RF technology. This document includes recommendations for information to be included in FDA premarket submissions for RF medical devices and device systems.


A neurosurgical procedure selectively using Radio Frequency ablation (RFA) technology to erode pathological nerve roots in the spinal cord; used to treat neuromuscular conditions. Most notably, Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) targets nerves causing hypertonia in spastic cerebral palsy. A variant outpatient procedure, Facet Rhizotomy, offers temporary relief of chronic back pain from degenerative disc disease.

Short-Wave (RF) Diathermy

The use of high RF currents to selectively apply heat to internal tissue lesions for physical/occupational therapeutic purposes; it can relieve pain and muscle spasms, resolve arthritic/ inflammatory states and reduce swelling, promote vasodilation, increase the compliance of connective tissue, increase joint range and decrease joint stiffness.

Wireless Medical Telemetry Systems (WMTS)

Applications of RF wireless technology for remote monitoring of a patient's vital signs (e.g. pulse and respiration) within the hospital setting. Sensors attached transmit a continuous data stream to the nurses' station or some other centralized location, thereby allowing an individual heath professional to simultaneously monitor multiple patients. Read more