Direct current — ionophoresis

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The essence of ionophoresis is the introduction of chemical compounds with therapeutic effects into the tissue by the use of a direct current

Parameters and wave form

In the case of ionophoresis treatment, as with the galvanization, direct current is applied. Its only parameter is the amplitude. It can be also filled with the medium frequency current (possible interrupted shape of the current).


The essence of ionophoresis is the introduction of chemical compounds with therapeutic effects into the tissue by the use of a direct current. A therapeutic agent is not the current, but ions delivered to the body. The basis of the ionophoresis is the dissociation phenomenon. While introducing a medicine we need to know what is its polarity or from which electrode we introduce therapeutic ions.


Ions introduced into tissues do not reach the opposite electrode. What happens to them:

  • they are captured and introduced into the blood circulation system
  • they join with the compounds contained in the tissue
  • by intercellular gaps, ions reach deep tissues

Ionophoresis has a very important advantage over ingesting medicines. The medicinal preparation introduced by the use of electric current reaches precisely to the treatment procedure area. That kind of medicine is harmful to the gastrointestinal tract, stomach, and liver. Its dose is proportionally smaller.

The disadvantage of this method is the need of medicine dissociation into ions. We also need to know the ion charge, which we intend to introduce into the patient’s body. Another problem is the depth of patent medicine penetration. It is up to a few millimeters. However here, the bloodstream works in our favor because we need to only administer the drug into the skin, and the circulating blood will carry it around the introduced area. Taking into consideration this point of view, working knowledge of anatomy while performing such treatment is strongly recommended.

Experiment description

The phenomenon of ion penetration with the application of DC has been proved by the French physician Leduc. He conducted a trial on two rabbits, which were locally deprived of hair, then he put the electrodes with pads soaked by potassium cyanide and passed the current.

Potassium cyanide = cyanide anion + potassium cation

To the “happy hunting ground” went the rabbit, which received a cyanide anion. A rabbit, into which potassium cation was introduced, survived despite the fact that its skin was in contact with potassium cyanide. This is because the cyanide anions were “attracted” by the positive electrode and they remained in the pad.

Method of performing treatment

To perform ionophoresis treatment it is recommended to apply drug solutions with low concentration. In ionophoresis treatment small and medium doses of electric current are applied. Treatment time is relatively long and starts up from 10-20 minutes.

There are several recommendations about the method of treatment:

  • verification of the drug concentration prior to application
  • solutions should be prepared directly prior to treatment procedure
  • it is recommended to carry out allergic tests prior to treatment
  • between the drug saturated pad we need to place the indirect pad soaked with water.
  • medicine pad should be used once
  • after the procedure, purify the skin of the patient with residual medicine