Doctors will test a TSU device for the treatment of frostbite

26 December 2018

TSU radiophysicists have received permission from the TSU Bioethics Committee to work with volunteers to test an installation for the treatment of frostbite. At the moment, it is the only device in the world created for the treatment of frostbite.

Frostbite accounts for 10-15% of all traumatic cases in the northern regions. For example, on December 4–6, 2018, in the days of severe frosts, fifteen residents of the Tomsk Region suffered. In this case, the treatment may be delayed for two or more months, and its cost is twice the cost of treatment for burns. In almost 90% of cases, injury leads to disability.

- After the New Year, we will start working with volunteers. When an ambulance brings people, Professor Evgeny Gavrilin will offer them treatment at this facility, - said Grigory Dunaevsky, project manager, TSU Professor. - The essence of our methodology is heating the limb with the help of a weak microwave field. When frostbite, as a rule, people begin to heat the limb intensively, and this is wrong. You raise the temperature outside, the vessels closest to the surface of the skin open, they begin to promote blood and lymph, and inside the vessels are frozen. It leads to the rupture of blood vessels and necrosis. Low-power microwave radiation can very quickly heat a limb to the full depth; this is an effective and inexpensive way to save a supercooled limb.

Until now, scientists have conducted experiments on laboratory animals — by the fourth day, the functions of frostbitten extremities in laboratory guinea-pigs were restored. The results were published in the News of Universities. Physics journal, but before using this technique in humans, serious improvements were needed. Now they are almost have been completed.

Researchers have modified the installation itself. For example, they designed a microwave chamber that allows efficient heating at low radiation powers, creating a flexible hose through which a limb can be placed in the chamber. It isolates the patient and staff from radiation. Scientists have also solved the problem of the heterogeneity of the microwave field: under certain conditions it can be very strong, and this can interfere with the uniform heating, with others it is almost absent.

- The session lasts at least half an hour since the injured limb must be warmed gradually. In theory, one or two sessions should be enough, - said Grigory Dunaevsky. - Doctors will test the device and work out treatment methods: the duration of the warm-up sessions and concomitant drug therapy.

The device will be improved according to the results of experiments on volunteers. The next stage will be its preclinical and clinical trials, then it is planned to transfer it to manufacturers and begin market entry.