Skip over navigation
ELECTROTHERAPY; MAGNETOTHERAPY; RADIATION THERAPY; ULTRASOUND THERAPY (measurement of bioelectric currents A61B; surgical instruments, devices or methods for transferring non-mechanical forms of energy to or from the body A61B 18/00; anaesthetic apparatus in general A61M; incandescent lamps H01K; infra-red radiators for heating H05B)
Definition statement
This subclass/group covers:

Specially adapted apparatus, instruments, devices, or processes for the following types of therapy:

  • electrotherapy, e.g. iontophoresis;
  • magnetotherapy;
  • radiation therapy;
  • ultrasound therapy.

Components having specialized structural features that limit their use to the apparatus, instruments, or devices for the types of therapy appropriate for this subclass.

Relationship between large subject matter areas

Several subclasses provide for subject matter that is used for therapy. The relationship between these subclasses in regard to the type of therapy covered by each is as follows:

Subclass A61N provides for medical treatment-type therapy by apparatus or methods utilizing forms of energy other than direct mechanical energy when they are not used for surgical purposes and they are intended to either

  • destroy, control, or advance the recovery of sick or abnormal cells within body tissue while minimizing undesirable destruction of adjoining healthy cells, or
  • treat other types of abnormal conditions of the body (e.g., disease, impaired organ, injured limb).

In particular, subclass A61N covers implanted devices, when the implanted device is not a replacement or supplementation of an actual portion of the organ or part, utilizing forms of energy other than direct mechanical energy to stimulate organs or body parts in a manner that facilitates, regulates, or improves their normal functioning.

Subclass A61H provides for massage and physical-type therapy apparatus or methods for the treatment of disease or disability (i.e., an abnormal condition of the body) by utilization of direct mechanical energy. The apparatus or methods appropriate for this subclass do not surgically alter any portion of the bodies during treatment. Usually, the massage and therapy apparatus and methods of this subclass are intended to facilitate the healing of diseases, reduce the impact of injuries, or beneficially influence the condition of disabled body parts by physically moving a part of a body (e.g., devices for exercising a passive body member) solely by direct physical contact with, or stimulation of, external surfaces of the body or naturally occurring cavities in the body. However, stimulation of internal organs or body parts, such as artificial respiration and stimulation of the heart, when it is done by direct mechanical energy is also considered proper for this subclass.

Subclass A61K and Subclass A61P provide for drug-type therapy using chemical compounds or medicinal preparations specially adapted for use in healing, benefiting, or destroying abnormal conditions of the body (e.g., diseases, birth defects) and the specific therapeutic activities that the chemical compounds and medicinal preparations are used for.

Subclass A61B provides for surgery and surgical-type therapy that alters or repairs organs and body parts. It also provides for any surgical or diagnostic apparatus or methods that would otherwise be proper for subclass A61H or A61N when the apparatus or methods are used for both purposes or combined together. In particular, subclass A61B provides for surgical instruments, devices, or methods for transferring non-mechanical forms of energy to or from the body (e.g., electromagnetic radiation surgery) to alter or repair it.

References relevant to classification in this subclass
This subclass/group does not cover:
Apparatus for diagnosis or surgery combined with, or applicable also as, therapy apparatus
Apparatus for radiation diagnosis
Surgical instruments, devices or methods for transferring non-mechanical forms of energy to or from the body (e.g., radiation surgery, electro-surgery)
Instruments, implements, tools, or methods specially adapted so as to limit their use to only animals
Apparatus or methods utilizing direct mechanical energy in therapy intended to treat disease or disability
Percussion or vibration massage apparatus (e.g. using supersonic vibration)
Apparatus or methods for stimulating specific reflex points by heating or cooling within the cell-life limits
Devices for applying radioactive material to the body
Informative references
Attention is drawn to the following places, which may be of interest for search:
Measuring bioelectrical signals of the body or body parts
Surgical accessories
Artificial substitutes or replacements for parts of the body
Heating or cooling appliances for medical or therapeutic treatment
Saunas
Radiopharmaceuticals
Anaesthetic apparatus in general
Artificial hearts and circulatory assistance means intended for implantation
Pressure infusion pumps
Devices or methods to cause a change in the state of consciousness by mechanical, optical or acoustical means, e.g. audiovisual stimuli
Therapeutic chemical compounds or medicinal preparation used to treat sicknesses or abnormal conditions of the body
Measurement of nuclear X-radiation
Techniques for handling of particles or electromagnetic radiation
Incandescent lamps having general utility
Infrared radiators for heating
Electrotherapy; Circuits therefor (A61N 2/00 takes precedence; irradiation apparatus A61N 5/00)
Definition statement
This subclass/group covers:

Details about electric fields which directly provide a therapeutic effect or which render the delivery of therapeutic substances possible; details about (components of) apparatuses which generate these electric fields.

References relevant to classification in this group
This subclass/group does not cover:
High frequency currents for surgery instead of therapy (i.e. higher temperatures so as to destroy tissue instead of healing tissue)
Informative references
Attention is drawn to the following places, which may be of interest for search:
Measuring blood pressure / blood flow
Measuring blood output from heart
Detecting muscle signals
Detecting gastrointestinal signals
Detecting urogenital signals
Measuring electrical impedance of a portion of the human body
Measuring movement of the entire body or parts thereof
Diagnosis using ultrasound in general
Measuring blood pressure by ultrasound
Measuring blood flow by ultrasound
Mechanical stimulation of ear nerves
Gastric anti-eating devices using electrical stimulation
Devices for eye surgery
Devices implantable in the eye e.g. ocular inserts
Heart stimulation by mechanical means
Stimulating specific reflex points using electric currents
Acoustically, mechanically or optically inducing sleep or relaxation
Irradiation apparatus
Electrically conditioning the air e.g. by ionising
Applying static electricity for purifying the air
Computer-assisted medical diagnosis or treatment
Detecting specific parameters of the ECG cycle
Recognising signal patterns per se
Deaf aid sets
Percussion or vibration massage with electrotherapy
Special rules of classification within this group

Additional information could be either

  • specific details about components, signals or algorithms which are not related to the invention as such; or
  • less preferred embodiments which are shortly mentioned (e.g. inventive specification of cochlear implants which can be used for retinal implants as well).

Documents with such information should be given an Indexing Code.

Synonyms and Keywords

In patent documents the following abbreviations are often used:

AAI
single chamber atrial pacemaker with inhibited mode
AED
automatic external defibrillator
AEI
atrial escape interval
AV
atrioventricular
AVD
atrioventricular delay
AVI
atrioventricular interval
BPM
beats per minute
CHD
coronary heart disease
CHF
chronic heart failure
CO
cardiac output
CRT
cardiac resynchronisation therapy
DBS
deep brain stimulation
DDD
biventricular pacemaker e stimulation rate with dual mode
DDDR
DDD pacemaker with pacing rate dependent on sensor output
DDI
biventricular pacemaker with inhibited mode
ECG
electrocardiogram
EKG
electrocardiogram
HR
heart rate
ICD
implantable cardioverter defibrillator
IMD
implantable medical device
IPG
implantable pulse generator
NS
neural stimulation
PAVB
post-atrial ventricular blanking
PESP
postextrasystolic potentiation
PMT
pacemaker mediated tachycardia
SV
stroke volume
SVT
supraventricular tachycardia
VDD
pacemaker that senses the atrium and ventricle and paces the ventricle with dual mode
VF
ventricular fibrillation
VT
ventricular tachycardia
VVI
single chamber ventricular pacemaker with inhibited mode
Electrodes [N: (electrosurgical electrodes A61B 18/14)]
Definition statement
This subclass/group covers:

Details about the electrodes and their associated leads specially adapted for delivering electrical therapeutic stimulation.

Informative references
Attention is drawn to the following places, which may be of interest for search:
Patient's garment with incorporated electrodes for medical monitoring
Electrodes specially adapted for ECG
Electrodes specially adapted for EEG
Electrodes specially adapted for EMG
Electrodes for electrosurgery
Stents and instruments for their placement
Stimulating specific reflex points using electric currents
Anchoring by balloon expansion
Form details about flexible conductors per se
Form details about conductors for implantation in a human body
Special rules of classification within this group

Details about the stimulating device as such, about the therapeutic signal and/or about the stimulating algorithm should be classified in A61N 1/36-A61N 1/3712.

Arrangements or circuits for monitoring, protecting, controlling or indicating [N: (for heart stimulators A61N 1/37; for defibrillators A61N 1/3925; measuring electric variables G01R; control of generator output in general H02P, H03L)]
Definition statement
This subclass/group covers:

Protecting the functioning of electrical therapeutic stimulation devices, especially against MRI.

This group only relates to protection (especially against MRI) for electrical therapeutic stimulation devices and not for other types of medical devices such as drug pumps. The purpose of this protection is to protect the functioning of the medical device.

References relevant to classification in this group
This subclass/group does not cover:
Monitoring or protecting for heart stimulators
Monitoring or protecting for defibrillators
Informative references
Attention is drawn to the following places, which may be of interest for search:
Mattresses for protecting against e.g. static electricity or radiation
Dynamisation and other esoteric therapies using medicinal preparations obtained by wave energy
Instruments for measuring magnetic variables involving magnetic resonance
NMR gyrometers
Provisions within MR facilities for enhancing safety during MR
Measuring electric variables
Control of generator output per se
Screening of apparatus or components against electric or magnetic fields
Neutralising atmospheric radiation
Special rules of classification within this group

Protecting the functioning of the medical device constitutes the difference with A61N 1/16, which relates to protecting the human body. E.g. pacemaker circuitry protecting the pacemaker from the field of a TV antenna should go to A61N 1/08 whereas as special building arrangement for protecting a person from the same field to A61N 1/16.

Synonyms and Keywords

In patent documents the following abbreviations are often used:

MR
magnetic resonance
MRI
magnetic resonance imaging
NMR
nuclear magnetic resonance
Screening or neutralising undesirable influences from [N: or using,] atmospheric or terrestrial radiation or fields [N: (using atmospheric electricity or earth currents H05F 3/00)]
Definition statement
This subclass/group covers:

Screening or neutralising atmospheric or terrestrial radiation or fields with the purpose of protecting the human body. The purpose of this protection is to protect the human body.

References relevant to classification in this group
This subclass/group does not cover:
Electrostimulators protected for electromagnetic interference
Informative references
Attention is drawn to the following places, which may be of interest for search:
Measuring magnetic field characteristics of the earth
Carrying-off electrical charges using atmospheric electricity or earth currents
Special rules of classification within this group

Protecting the human body constitutes the difference with A61N 1/08, which relates to protecting the functioning of the medical device. E.g. pacemaker circuitry protecting the pacemaker from the field of a TV antenna should go to A61N 1/08 whereas as special building arrangement for protecting a person from the same field to A61N 1/16. A61N 1/08 takes precedence over A61N 1/16.

foor stimulation, e.g. heart pace-makers
Definition statement
This subclass/group covers:

Details about the therapeutic signal and/or about the stimulation algorithm, constructional and/or circuitry details, telemetry details.

References relevant to classification in this group
This subclass/group does not cover:
Details about the electrodes or the leads
Applying constant continuous current
Electromedical belts
Electromedical brushes, combs, massage devices
Inteference currents
Iontophoresis
Promoting growth of cells
Electroporation
Improving skin appearance
Arrangements in connection with the implantation of stimulators
Definition statement
This subclass/group covers:

Specifications going beyond the implantable medical device in isolation, such as communicating with, delivering power to, or testing of the implantable medical device.

Structural details of (parts of) the implantable medical device, e.g. casing or feedthrough.

References relevant to classification in this group
This subclass/group does not cover:
Details about leads and electrodes
Informative references
Attention is drawn to the following places, which may be of interest for search:
Transmitting measured data to processing apparatus
Transferring electromagnetic energy to implanted prostheses
Transferring data to implanted prostheses
Materials for catheters
Materials for coating of implanted articles
Testing electrical condition of batteries per se
Computer assisted treatment
Telemedicine: remote diagnosis, remote control of instruments
GUI for local control of medical devices
Transmitting signals with a radio link per se
Sealing of leads to lead-through insulators per se
Feedthrough capacitors per se
Batteries per se
Manufacture of small size batteries per se
Electrical connections per se
Electrical connections for medical use
Adapters for connecting two parts per se
Charging batteries per se
Charging batteries by inductive or capacitive coupling
Near-field (inductive) transmission systems per se
Radio transmission systems per se
Transmission of digital information per se
Transmitting circuits using pulse with modulation or pulse position modulation
Electrical connectors for medicine and surgery
for producing shock effects (in general H05C 1/00)
Informative references
Attention is drawn to the following places, which may be of interest for search:
For producing shock effects per se
Electrolytic capacitors per se
Synonyms and Keywords

In patent documents the following abbreviations are often used:

AF
atrial fibrillation
VF
ventricular fibrillation
Applying ionised fluids [N: (ion generators H01J 37/00)]
Informative references
Attention is drawn to the following places, which may be of interest for search:
Baths for special therapeutic purposes
Baths for specific parts of the body
Ion generators
Generating ions into the atmosphere
Ionised inhalator
Magnetotherapy
Definition statement
This subclass/group covers:

Use of static or dynamic magnetic fields for treating humans or animals, where the magnetic field itself provides the therapeutic effect.

References relevant to classification in this group
This subclass/group does not cover:
Releasing a medicament through the use of a magnetic field
Medicinal preparations obtained with a magnetic field
Using a magnetic field for diagnosis
Radiation therapy (ultrasound therapy A61N 7/00; devices or apparatus applicable to both therapy and diagnosis A61B 6/00)
Definition statement
This subclass/group covers:

Therapeutic treatment of the human or animal body with electromagnetic or particle radiation.

Therapy implies the curing of a disease or malfunction of the body and includes prophylactic treatment like killing of germs, bacteria in or on the body by means of radiation as well as treatment of symptoms like pain (anaesthesia) by means of radiation.

References relevant to classification in this group
This subclass/group does not cover:
Ultrasound therapy
Surgery with radiation (cf. special rules below)
Magnetotherapy
Radiation imaging or diagnosis
Sterilization or disinfection of articles or products by radiation
Lithography with a particle beam
Ion implantation in semiconductors
Irradiation devices for articles or products
Lighting
F21
Treatment by heat, sauna

Examples of places where the subject matter of this subclass/group is covered when specially adapted, used for a particular purpose, or incorporated in a larger system:

Devices or apparatus applicable to both therapy and diagnosis
Informative references
Attention is drawn to the following places, which may be of interest for search:
Radiation measurement devices, dosimeters, beam monitors
Accelerator Technology
X-ray tubes
Beam transport, forming, focussing, filtering
Radiation Shielding
Protection of tissue around treatment site
Site contact feedback, abutting means
Patient positioning
Patient movement or breathing monitoring
Markers
Navigation, image assistance
Sensing at the treatment site
Photosensitizers, radiosensitisers
Radionuclides, radiopharmaceuticals
Radiation sources
Vapour or discharge lamps, tubes
Light guides
Filters
LEDs
Lasers
Psychological treatments
Acupuncture
Teeth whitening by light
Curing resins within the teeth
Medical informatics, patient data management
Devices for implanting pellets or seeds
(Balloon) catheters
Balloons for catheter applicators
Irradiation of blood outside the patient (ex-vivo)
Special rules of classification within this group

The IPC group A61M36/00 is not used: these devices are instead classified in A61N 5/10, since their purpose is therapeutic.

Surgery vs. Therapy

In contrast to the therapeutic applications covered by this group, surgery is characterized by the immediate and direct destruction or transformation of the tissue (ablation, vaporization, coagulation...). For therapy, the effect in the tissue is induced with rather lower intensity and power levels and/or longer pulse durations (photothermal, photochemical reactions, biostimulation...). Thus, for instance, cell destruction by photoactivation of an agent is to be classified in A61N 5/062. Some devices may be used for both applications depending on the operation mode.

Note that A61N 5/1084 covers focussed radiotherapy applications like "gamma knife" and stereotactic radiotherapy which are sometimes also called "radiosurgery", which is not to be confused with surgery in the sense of A61B 18/00.

Light therapy (A61N 5/06)

The scheme in A61N 5/06 contains several independent classification trees covering different aspects of a light therapy apparatus.

The therapeutic application is meant to be classified in A61N 5/0613 and lower hierarchical groups thereof for external treatments or A61N 5/0601 and lower hierarchical groups thereof for internal treatments.

Further aspects are then classified in codes according to the area of treatment (subgroups of A61N 2005/0635), the type of light source used (subgroups of A61N 2005/065), and the wavelength of therapeutic light (subgroups of A61N 2005/0658).

Aspects like coherence of the therapeutic light (A61N 2005/067) and polarisation (A61N 2005/073) are also to be coded.

For some aspects, no suitable code is available and in such cases, sometimes the scheme of a neighbouring field is used: subgroups of A61B 2018/00773 or A61B 2017/00022 (feedback at the treatment site), A61B 2018/2255 (features at the distal end of a light guide, e.g. diffusers).

Note: devices of A61N 5/0614 (tanning) do not need to be classified in A61N 2005/0661 since the ultraviolet light is there by necessity.

Particle and X-ray therapy (A61N 5/10)

In the A61N 5/10 part, there is a similar aspect coded in A61N 2005/1085 (type of particles, e.g. ions, electrons, neutrons, low energy photons etc.). This code is obligatory for the particles specified in the subgroups of A61N 2005/1085. Only normal energy (MeV) photons are not coded in this tree, since it concerns the default situation.

The group A61N 5/01 should not be used for radiotherapy gantries, since a rotating gantry is common and not worth to classify.

Synonyms and Keywords

In patent documents the following abbreviations are often used:

IMRT
Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy
IMAT
Intensity Modulated Arc Ttherapy
IGRT
Image Guided Radiation Therapy
MLC
Multileaf Collimator
SAS
Step And Shot
(O)LED
(Organic) Light Emitting Diode
DRR
Digitally Reconstructed Radiograph
SOBP
Spread-Out Bragg Peak
DVH
Dose Volume Histogram
EPI
Electronic Portal Imaging
OAR
Organ At Risk
Ultrasound therapy (lithotripsy A61B 17/22, A61B 17/225; massage using supersonic vibration A61H 23/00; [N: using ultrasound for introducing media into the body A61M 37/0092])
Definition statement
This subclass/group covers:

Ultrasound therapy of the human or animal body. Also included is the thermal destruction of tissue in the focal point of a high intensity ultrasound beam.

References relevant to classification in this group
This subclass/group does not cover:
Removal of calculi, thromboses etc. by ultrasound
Extracorporeal shock waves (with mainly mechanical effect, e.g. lithotripters)
Cutting using ultrasonic vibrations, e.g. with vibrating knife
Apparatus for introducing media into the body using ultrasonic waves, phonophoresis
Devices creating a mechanical shock wave by laser light
Informative references
Attention is drawn to the following places, which may be of interest for search:
Ultrasound diagnosis
Ultrasound imaging during surgical procedures
Accessories for surgery or diagnosis
Percussion or vibration massage
Generating mechanical vibrations
Transmitting, conducting and directing sound in general
Special rules of classification within this group

Ultrasound therapy with negligible thermal effect. Treatment area not reduced to a focal point. E.g. devices for bone fracture healing.

The subgroups define various application areas on the body to be treated or therapeutic applications. Headgroup A61N 2007/0004 not to be used for classification.

Localized ultrasound hyperthermia, high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU). The effect is primary a thermal one of substantially heating tissue above the normal temperature or even above the point of tissue destruction. Mechanical percussion to destroy calculi is to be classified in A61B 17/22004 or A61B 17/225 in case of external shockwaves.

Intracavitary localized hyperthermia. The probe or transducer is located within a body cavity.

Glossary of terms
In this subclass/group, the following terms (or expressions) are used with the meaning indicated:
HIFU
high intensity focused ultrasound
Phased array transducer
transducer consisting of an array of small transducers individually adressable with a time delay to steer the focal point of the beam
This page is owned by Office of Patent Classification.
Last Modified: 10/11/2013