Thermography - A Test of Function and Physiology

Thermography is an objective piece of information relating to actual function and physiology rather than structure.  We are able to see thermovascular changes that can take place long before anything becomes structural enough to be seen by ultrasound or mammogram.  How is that possible?  By your amazing body’s sympathetic nervous system and its response to change in your body. We have known for centuries that body temperature and illness are connected.  Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging (DITI) visualizes and quantifies changes in skin surface temperature.   Our infrared camera is so sophisticated it will record changes to 1/100th of a degree. Since there is a high degree of thermal symmetry in the normal body, subtle abnormal temperature asymmetry's can be easily identified.

X-rays, ultrasound, and MRIs are all tests that provide information on the structures found within the body. Thermography is the only imaging technology at this time that is capable of showing physiological changes and metabolic processes. Thermography can often show where the pain is coming from. And there is no exposure to x-rays, nothing to prompt claustrophobic feelings.

Common clinical uses include:

  • early detection of breast cancer risk
  • sports related injuries
  • detection of vascular and nerve pathology
  • imaging pain and referred pain
  • monitoring of changes in general health status
  • monitoring of healing process
  • monitoring of treatment efficacy.  

Imaging can be done on a region of interest, or the whole body can be scanned.

Results obtained with medical DITI systems are totally objective and show excellent correlation with other diagnostic tests.

Specific illnesses, diseases and ailments that can be detected through digital infrared thermal imaging are:

  1. Fibromyalgia
  2. Visceral Dysfunction
  3. Carpel Tunnel Syndrome
  4. Chronic Low Back Pain
  5. Headache / Sinus Pain
  6. Neck and Back Problems
  7. Referred Pain
  8. Repetitive Strain Injuries
  9. Whiplash
  10. Arthritis
  11. Skin Cancer
  12. Arthritis
  13. Chronic Nerve Injury
  14. Sports Injuries

Thermography is a diagnostic tool in the differential diagnosis of neuromusculoskeletal injuries – commonly foot and ankle, knee, shoulder, and lumbar and cervical spine – and their prognosis for return to participation and/or competition. Thermography has been recognized as a viable diagnostic tool since 1987 by the AMA council on scientific affairs, the ACA council on Diagnostic Imaging, the Congress of Neurosurgeons in 1988 and in 1990 by the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Thermography uses infra-red photography to measure thermal emissions from the skin and subcutaneous tissue. The thermograph is the picture produced. It provides a visual means of identifying areas of inflammation.

It can help determine where your pain is coming from and the best way to treat it. Prompt and more effective treatment may be initiated so that full blown, difficult to manage, chronic disability may be averted.

Posttraumatic pain is often associated with complex disturbances of the sympathetic nervous system which also controls microcirculation of the skin. Circulatory skin changes are in turn reflected by altered superficial thermal emission, which can be reliably imaged by thermography.

How Does Thermography Work?

A trained clinical thermographer uses a very sensitive medical digital camera to take thermal images of the body and sends this data to a computer. All living organisms, including humans, radiate heat energy in specific patterns. These images are then interpreted by a qualified physician. In this way, skin temperatures, thermal and vascular patterns, and sympathetic nervous system responses can distinguish between normal and abnormal physiological function of the body. Tests of physiology may be a new concept to the reader. One example is an EKG, which is a physiological test of heart electrical function. Thermography is different than an X-ray, where radiation is passed through the body and an image is developed on an X-ray plate film to produce an anatomical image. Thermography provides valuable information that complements the anatomical images from MRI scans, CT scans, ultrasound, mammography, or X-ray.

“Your smart skin is radiating a wealth of information in the form of photons of invisible infrared light. Patterns of infrared heat are directly related to your function and physiology, thanks to your fascinating autonomic nervous system’s micro-management of skin blood flow in maintaining homeostasis. We capture your thermal patterns with a sophisticated Meditherm infrared camera that measures the heat of each pixel in the image to 1/100 of a degree, technology born in the military’s “night vision”, refined further for medical use and capable of detecting even small changes in physiology.”

— Candace Parmer, Founder of Radiant Body Thermography

Is Thermography a Proven Technology?
Absolutely!  What’s truly fascinating is that medical thermography isn’t new.  Not at all.  It’s been around, and exhaustively researched, for a very long time.  In fact, the FDA first officially recognized its usefulness and approved or “cleared” it for medical imaging as far back as 1982.  In the area of breast imaging alone, thermography has been studied for over 50 years.  More than 300,000 women have been engaged in a great many large, long-term studies over that time.  The result?   Very precise, exacting, definitive interpretation protocols have now been well established for over 15 years. 
Here’s the exciting part.  With recent technological advances, medical thermography now offers (a) vastly improved “camera” resolution, and (b) more sophisticated image-generating software than ever before.