What is Thermography?
Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging is a unique technology that takes an image and creates a map of the infrared patterns of the body. It is different from other screening tools because it helps us to see function (physiology). Other modalities detect anatomical changes so will miss such things as active inflammation or angiogenesis (increased blood supply as found in disease). It was cleared by the FDA as an adjunct to mammography breast screening in 1982. It can detect thermal changes in the skin which may indicate early danger signs of disease in the body years before other tools.
What can Thermography be used for?
There are 4 areas in which Thermography is useful:
- Inflammatory Phenomena- This could include early signs of developing cardiovascular challenges, arthritis, Fibromyalgia or trauma such as strains, sprains or chronic pain.
- Neovascular Phenomena – Cellular changes such as cancer are fed by the body’s own blood supply. This development of early vascularity creates thermal changes that can be detected in the skin with Thermography well before anatomical changes occur.
- Neurological Phenomena – Chronic regional pain syndrome, nerve irritation can cause referred pain in other areas. Circulatory deficits are easily seen in thermographic images.
Is it a proven technology?
Thermography has been comprehensively researched for over 40 years. While it is not a replacement for Mammography, it may have many valuable assets including: earlier identification of neovascular (blood supply) patterns, adjunct to inconclusive mammograms, improved information for women with dense breasts or implants.
- In 1982, the FDA approved breast thermography as an adjunct to mammography – a diagnostic breast screening procedure.
- Of the extensive research conducted since the late 1950’s, well over 300,000 women have been included as study participants.
- The size of the studies are very large: 10k, 37k, 60k, 85k. Some studies have followed participants up to 12 years.
- Strict standardized interpretation protocols have been established for 15 years to remedy problems with early research.
- Breast thermography has an average sensitivity and specificity of 90%.
- An abnormal thermogram is 10 times more significant as a future risk indicator for breast disease than a first order family history.
- A persistent abnormal thermogram carries with it a 22 times higher risk of future breast disease.
- Extensive clinical trials have shown that breast thermography significantly augments the long-term survival rates of its recipients by as much as 61%.
Why have I not heard about this?
Like many alternative diagnostic tools or treatments, the facts are not always disclosed. Thermography was summarily dropped from breast screening in the 1980s after only one year of use. The reason was sited as: it detected too many false positives and therefore was not specific enough. This is ironic since the mammogram has a 65% false positive rate and recent studies have shown that it is a poor predictive tool. Ninety percent of MDs know nothing of the technology and thus are critical of anything about which they know nothing. The other 10% seem to quote research from 22 years ago from a few small studies, and they ignore the plethora of positive research.
Is it safe?
While a variety of studies have called into question the safety of cumulative exposures to radiation, this is not the case with Thermography. Thermography emits nothing; it only takes an image (a picture). Nothing touches you and it is quick and painless. This all makes Thermography great for frequent screening with no chance of danger.
Who reads the images?
The images are sent via a secured server to Physicians Insight Clinical Interpretation where a professional group of physicians who are trained in the protocols of reading Thermal images interpret the images. A very formal interpretation is made and sent to us. We send it to you and your doctor. At this point, your doctor can review the results and make
suggestions or referrals if necessary.
What if I get “High Level of Concern” results? What do I do?
Thermography is not diagnostic but shows early risk factors. This is great news because an abnormal result from a thermogram is usually so early that it often buys time so that natural interventions such as herbs, supplements and lifestyle changes can influence the outcome. At the least, the condition can be closely monitored safely until conventional interventions need to be applied. We do not diagnose or treat cancer.