History of Thermography
Detecting pathology with thermal diagnostics is not new. The writings of Hippocrates around 480 B.C. noted that mud, when spread over a patient, would dry at different rates, indicating underlying organ pathology.
The first use of thermography came in 1957 when R. Lawson discovered that the skin temperature over a cancer of the breast was higher than that of normal tissue.
In 1982, The American FDA approved the procedure as an adjunctive tool in breast cancer screening and many physicians, concerned about the radiation exposure of mammography, began to promote thermography as a replacement for mammography.
Thermography Falls out of Favor in the US
It was soon realized that thermography could clearly, objectively, and easily demonstrate the physiological component of pain and injury , especially to the spinal column, due to car accidents, job injuries, and a host of other tort related law suits.
Everyone involved had benefited from these positive test findings, which could be clearly shown to a jury. Everyone that is except the defendant insurance industry.In the 1970's and early 80's, the insurance industry in the United States placed an all-out effort to diminish the value of thermography in courts of law due to high litigation costs.
Lobbying efforts at the AMAs House of Delegates and at Medicare, brought about the removal of thermographic coverage by most insurance companies and the greatly reduced utilization of thermography in the United States.
Thermography Today is Making a Comeback
Thermography, although widely used in Europe and Australia, is beginning to make a comeback in the United States in the form of Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging (DITI).
DITI is more sensitive than previous thermographic technology and new digital thermal cameras are much smaller, more reliable, and significantly less expense than industrial cameras used in the 1970's.
DITI is 100% safe, painless and requires no harmful radiaiton.
Recently, a Canadian Breast Cancer Screening Study demonstrated that thermography, when used in conjunction with mammography, can detect up to 95% of breast cancers.
Medical DITI is a noninvasive diagnostic technique that allows the examiner to visualise and quantify changes in skin surface temperature. An infrared scanning device is used to convert infrared radiation emitted from the skin surface into electrical impulses that are visualised in colour on a monitor. This visual image graphically maps the body temperature and is referred to as a thermogram. The spectrum of colours indicate an increase or decrease in the amount of infrared radiation being emitted from the body surface. Since there is a high degree of thermal symmetry in the normal body, subtle abnormal temperature asymmetry's can be easily identified.
Medical DITI's major clinical value is in its high sensitivity to pathology in the vascular, muscular, neural and skeletal systems and as such can contribute to the pathogenesis and diagnosis made by the clinician.
Medical DITI has been used extensively in human medicine in the U.S.A., Europe and Asia for the past 20 years. Until now, cumbersome equipment has hampered its diagnostic and economic viability. Current state of the art PC based IR technology designed specifically for clinical application has changed all this.
Some Uses for DITI
To define the extent of a lesion of which a diagnosis has previously been made;
To localise an abnormal area not previously identified, so further diagnostic tests can be performed;
To detect early lesions before they are clinically evident;
To monitor the healing process before the patient is returned to work or training.
Medical DITI is filling the gap in clinical diagnosis ...
X ray, C.T. Ultrasound and M.R.I. etc., are tests of anatomy.
E.M.G. is a test of motor physiology.
DITI is unique in its capability to show physiological change and metabolic processes. It has also proven to be a very useful complementary procedure to other diagnostic modalities.
Unlike most diagnostic modalities DITI is non invasive. It is a very sensitive and reliable means of graphically mapping and displaying skin surface temperature. With DITI you can diagnosis, evaluate, monitor and document a large number of injuries and conditions, including soft tissue injuries and sensory/autonomic nerve fibre dysfunction.
Some of the Benefits of DITI
- Offers considerable financial savings by avoiding the need for more expensive investigations.
- Graphically displays the very subjective feeling of pain by objectively displaying the changes in skin surface temperature that accompany pain states.
- Shows a combined effect of the autonomic nervous system and the vascular system, down to capillary dysfunctions. The effects of these changes show as asymmetry's in temperature distribution on the surface of the body.
- Monitors thermal abnormalities present in a number of diseases and physical injuries. It is used as an aid for diagnosis and prognosis, as well as therapy follow up and rehabilitation monitoring, within clinical fields that include Rheumatology, neurology, physiotherapy, sports medicine, oncology, pediatrics, orthopedics and many others.
- Results obtained with medical DITI systems are totally objective and show excellent correlation with other diagnostic tests.