Thermography 101: What is it & What is it used for?

Last Updated Jun 26, 2020

Are you looking for a test that can tell you about changes in your body before other tests are able to?  Thermography is an excellent diagnostic tool that is starting to become more popular due to its “early warning” properties.  Read on to learn more.

What is Thermography?

Thermography uses a highly specialised infrared camera that is capable of reading the heat that comes from the surface of the skin.  It detects temperature changes, usually between two extremities, and a difference of one degree Celsius is thought to be significant.  The images that are produced by the camera are called thermograms.  Thermography is thought to be a valuable diagnostic tool as it is an “early warning” tool, showing changes that cannot be seen in other forms of testing.

What is Thermography used for?

Thermography is most well-known as a diagnostic test that is capable of detecting breast cancers well before they are able to be detected by conventional mammograms.  Used on the breast, thermography can help to screen for benign breast tumours, breast cancer, skin cancer, mastitis, and fibrocystic breast disease.  It can also help with monitoring breast cancer treatment, and also with the risk assessment for breast cancer.  However, thermography can also be used for the following:

  • neck and lower back injury
  • muscle injury
  • nerve injury
  • headaches
  • analysing the foot and gait
  • diabetic peripheral disease
  • evaluation of orthotics
  • leg pain
  • dental problems and TMJ
  • vascular issues
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • regional pain syndrome
  • fibromyalgia
  • sinus pain
  • referred pain
  • visualisation of pain
  • repetitive strain injuries
  • sports injury
  • stroke risk assessment
  • musculoskeletal syndromes
  • whiplash
  • arthritis
  • thrombosis
  • pain evaluation

Is Thermography Safe?

Thermography is non-invasive and completely safe.  There is no radiation and no compression (when used on the breasts).  Thermography is generally not performed on its own but in conjunction with other medical tests.  The test lasts for around 15 minutes.

To find where you can get thermography and other tests, check out our lists of health screeening clinics  in your area.

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Originally published on Feb 22, 2009

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