What Exactly Is Thermal Imaging?
Thermal Imaging is a harmless, painless, contactless screening tool. It uses a thermal imaging camera and digital infra-red heat map technology to detect potential disease and pinpoint pain and injury sites – often before the symptoms appear. This allows for rapid clinical diagnosis and treatment.
Digital Infra-red Technology has been used by the medical industry since the late ‘80’s and is a unique, safe, non-invasive way of looking at the body and how it is functioning. This clinical test is widely used in the USA and Europe and is supported by over 30 years of research and 8000+ published medical studies.
While X rays, ultrasound and mammography show us the structure of the body, they will miss such things as active inflammation and an increased blood supply found in many illnesses. The technology used in Thermal Imaging takes a picture and creates a map, or thermal fingerprint of the body.
It is set apart from any other screening tool because it can help you to see how your body functions and can detect any dysfunction or disease at its earliest stage.
How Does Thermal Imaging Work?
A camera is used to convert infrared imaging from the skin surface into electrical impulses that are shown in colour on a monitor. This visual image maps the body temperature and is referred to as a Thermogram – the spectrum of colours indicate an increase or decrease in the amount of heat being emitted from the surface of the body. Since the body is thermally symmetrical, any subtle abnormal differences in temperature are easily identified. Thermal Imaging is highly sensitive to variations in the vascular, muscular, neural and skeletal systems and can contribute invaluable information to a diagnosis made by a doctor.
Because Thermal Imaging detects active inflammation and increased blood supply, very often it can detect problems far earlier than other diagnostic tools such as x-rays, ultrasound and mammograms.
It is well documented in medicine that heat and temperature changes are one of the first indicators of disease and dysfunction in the body.
For example, chronic diseases, even in their earliest stages, cause the formation of new blood vessels and an increase in surface temperature in the affected regions. A thermogram will pick up both of these, alerting a doctor or medical practitioner to the presence of a potential disease site. Additionally the newly formed or activated blood vessels have a distinct appearance which thermography can detect.
Changes in physiology can occur 7- 10 years before anatomic ones. Thermal imaging picks up on the physiological heat changes occurring in the body and monitors them over time, allowing a detailed picture of your health, and any changes, to be built up. And because thermograms monitor changes to heat and pathology, rather than physical form, early stage disease can be picked up by a thermogram much earlier than with other screening devices, for example mammograms or ultra-sound. This knowledge puts you in control and allows you the opportunity of taking preventative action, such as diet and life-style changes that can forestall or even prevent the formation of tumors and other disease, long before surgical intervention becomes the only option.
Everyone has their own unique thermal profile, rather like a finger-print.
Your ‘thermal fingerprint’ should be roughly symmetrical, meaning both sides of the body should mirror one another, and it should not change significantly over time. Having a thermogram will alert your doctor or health practitioner to any asymmetry in the body, and will allow any changes to be monitored over time.
As well as highlighting the presence of problems right now, thermal imaging can be a predictor of future health because it allows us to track and monitoring changes over time. This is especially useful for anyone with a history of disease in the family. For example, in the case of breast cancer, a thermogram can detect abnormalities 8-10 years before they are seen on a mammogram. And research has shown it is 10 times more significant as a future risk indicator for breast cancer than having a history of breast cancer in your family.
Why Do I Need It?
Early stage diagnosis and treatment is crucial for many diseases, particularly cancer. It allows for more pro-active and less invasive treatment options to be implemented, including lifestyle, diet and exercise changes.
Early detection of disease and injury also allows for faster recovery.
Other screening tools, such as ultrasound, x-rays and mammograms will only alert you to the presence of disease once it has already taken hold. A thermogram on the other hand, detects heat changes before the disease actually appears, so it can alert us to the presence of a potential problem long before it becomes a reality.
Thermal imaging can also pinpoint and highlight sites of unexplained pain and trauma in the body, with acute accuracy, allowing for rapid and accurate diagnosis in athletes, and pain and trauma sites that other screening devices may miss.
All of these make a thermal imaging scan especially useful for anyone worried about a disease or unexplained pain, anyone looking for rapid and accurate diagnosis of a trauma or injury site, or for anyone with a history of disease in the family who wants to monitor changes to their own health over time.
How Safe and Effective Is Thermal Imaging?
Thermal Imaging is 100% safe. Unlike mammograms it uses no ionising radiation. Ionising radiation is the most dangerous form of radiation (even more dangerous than x-rays) and is a known cancer-causing agent.
It is supported by over 30 years of research and 8000+ published medical studies.
Moreover, there are no side effects and it is suitable for all ages – even young children and babies. It can also be utilised as a screening device for women for whom mammograms are not suitable.
Is it accurate? Yes. It has been shown to be 97% effective as a screening tool at detecting benign vs. malignant breast abnormalities. For example a study was conducted over 12 years tracking 1537 women with abnormal thermograms, who had normal mammograms and physical exams. Within 5 years, 40% of the women had developed malignancies. Researchers have concluded: “An abnormal thermogram is the single most important marker of high risk for the future development of breast cancer”.
These are not isolated results. Similar studies have concluded similar results time and again for nearly 30 years.
Mammograms & Ultra-sounds, whilst very effective, rely on mass and so generally will not pick up a cancer tumour until it is a certain size – by which time it has likely been growing for several years.
Who Can Benefit?
Thermal imaging is suitable for all ages, even babies and small children.
It can also be a highly effective breast screening device for women for whom mammograms are not suitable. For example women with breast implants and those with dense breast tissue.
Thermal Imaging can help detect:
- Inflammation, pre-cursor to chronic disease
- Heart problems
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Nerve Damage
- Unexplained Pain
- Undetected Injury or Trauma
- And can be used for treatment monitoring, evaluation and follow-up