Ultraviolet Radiation in Medicine. Encyclopedia of Medical Devices and Instrumentation.

Abstract

This article gives a review of the uses of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) in medicine. Sunlight has long been associated with health benefits and used for treatment. It is only recently, however, that the beneficial and detrimental effects of UVR on humans has become better understood. Ultraviolet radiation is part of the electromagnetic spectrum between 100 and 400 nm. Acute effects of UVR include erythema (skin redness) and tanning.

Delayed effects include skin cancer induction and skin aging. Most human UVR exposure is from the sun, but there is now a wide range of artificial sources available. Fluorescent sources are the most common used in medicine; these and other sources are described. Measurement of UVR is commonly made with physical detectors such as photodiodes that need to be carefully calibrated using more complex equipment such as spectroradiometers.

The use of UVR in medical diagnosis (e.g., investigation of skin rashes caused by sunlight) and therapy (particularly in the treatment of skin diseases) is described. A section on sunbeds is included that discusses their medical and cosmetic use and the associated hazards. Other less common uses of UVR in medicine such as photopheresis are mentioned and the article concludes with information on UVR hazard assessment and protection.

Citation

Lloyd, J. J. 2006. Ultraviolet Radiation in Medicine. Encyclopedia of Medical Devices and Instrumentation.

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Categories: Medical & Pharmaceutical

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