Medical Infrared Imaging (Thermography) is a noninvasive, adjunctive diagnostic technique that visualizes and records changes in surface skin temperature. An infrared camera is used to produce the visual image, which graphically maps the body temperature and is referred to as a thermogram. Utilization of surface temperature analysis in a clinical setting is appropriate and germane to the practice of healthcare whenever it is deemed necessary for examination of physiology. Just as it is well known that core temperature yields valuable information on the clinical status of the patient, surface temperature has been shown to produce invaluable information on the normal and abnormal functioning of the sensory and sympathetic nervous system, vascular system, musculoskeletal system, and local inflammatory processes.
The most well-known use of thermography has been as an adjunctive diagnostic screening tool for the detection of breast cancer. However, the Spectron IR medical imaging camera - with its exceptional resolution and superior sensitivity –can be used in a variety of other areas to assess a patient’s internal temperature and locate unusual areas of hot, warm or cold temperatures in the body.
The Spectron IR camera can be used in the following areas:
Cancer Screening- as an adjunct to detect early signs of cancer, with the understanding that cancerous tissue typically has a higher temperature than noncancerous tissue
Vascular Disease – thermography can be used to obtain a unique view of the blood vessels in the body. areas of unusual heat might indicate abnormality, while areas of usually cool temperatures might indicate lack of circulation. Rheumatology – the infrared detector measures variations in the temperatures of the body’s tissues identifying problem areas.
Fever Detection – thermography has been used in Asia to screen travelers for fever before entering or leaving the country, specifically targeting SARS, H1N1 or Asian Bird Flu.
Neuromusculoskeletal Disorders – thermography has been used to detect nerve irritations and musculoskeletal disorders and help practitioners find the source of a patient’s pain.
Thyroid Disorders – thermography can help to identify a problem with the thyroid based on heat that is being generated by the gland leading the practitioner to test further.
Inflammatory Conditions – thermography can identify areas that produce abnormal heat patterns possibly indicating an inflammatory condition exists for such hard to diagnose conditions such as fibromyalgia. Both hot and cold responses may coexist if the pain associated with an inflammation focus excites an increase in sympathetic activity.
As with any evolving medical technology, there are likely many other areas in which this technology could be used. Use of the Spectron IR medical imaging system is not intended to be the sole diagnostic procedure for these conditions but rather an adjunctive screening tool to identify areas of concern contributing to the pathogenesis and diagnosis made by the practitioner.