Thermography Frequently Asked QuestionsWe May Have Answers
WHAT IS MEDICAL THERMOGRAPHY?
Infrared technology has been used for the last three decades, since the 1970’s and medical books listed thermography as one of the tools to detect breast cancer as early as 1975. Maurice Bales, a scientist at the University of California, Berkeley developed the basics, and then upgraded the equipment for the Thermal Image Processor (TIP). It was first used to identify musculoskeletal problems such as stress fractures.
Thermography procedure is based on the principle that chemical and blood vessel activity in both pre-cancerous tissue and the area surrounding a developing breast cancer is almost always higher than it is in the normal breast tissue. Since pre-cancerous and cancerous masses are highly metabolic tissues, they need an abundant supply of blood and nutrients to maintain their growth. In order to obtain them they increase circulation to their cells by sending out chemicals to keep existing blood vessels open, recruit dormant vessels, and create new ones (neo-angiogenesis). This process results in an increase in regional surface temperatures of the breast.
Today, we use a state-of-the-art ultra-sensitive infrared camera and sophisticated computer software to detect, analyze, and produce high-resolution diagnostic images of these temperature and vascular changes. The equipment is so sophisticated that according to an article in Alternative Medicine Magazine, September 1999, thermography enables detection at the very beginning of angiogenesis so that it may be two to three years ahead of other diagnostic devices. It can also differentiate between cysts and tumors. For this reason thermography could be used in younger women, those for whom mammography would not be effective.
Thermography can also be used to monitor the results of treatment as it can be seen when the anti-angiogenesis factors reverse the disease.
WHAT IS THERMOGRAM?
A thermogram is an infrared thermal image. Infrared camera is used to photograph the heat coming from your skin. The heat pattern is then measured and analyzed and a report is generated. Asymmetrical patterns of heat get detected if there is an infection, fibrocystic disease or cancer. The procedure is entirely painless and non-invasive: nothing enters or touches the body. There is absolutely no risk of injury, discomfort or radiation. Your thermal images can be used by your healthcare practitioner to help diagnose and monitor pain or pathology in any part of your body.
WHAT THERMOGRAPHY DIAGNOSTIC USEFUL FOR?
Medical research has shown thermography to be helpful in the diagnosis of any condition for which there is an alteration of blood flow or circulation:
- Arthritis: thermography can help you detect early signs of arthritis — and differentiate between osteoarthritis and more severe forms like rheumatoid.
- Dental Infections: If you have TMJ, gum disease, or an infected tooth, this will show up on a thermal scan as white or red hot.
- Soft Tissue Injuries
- Headaches, Neck and Back Problems: Thermal pain patterns ‘light up’ white and red hot on a scan in the involved area. You can get relief faster and begin restorative care that more precisely targets the correct area.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: This condition is often misdiagnosed. For instance, you may think you have carpal tunnel, yet the scan shows your neck is referring pain from a different affected area. This will help you get the most appropriate treatment.
- Metabolic Disorders: thyroid dysfunction, diabetes, autoimmune conditions
- Nervous System Disorders
- Immune Dysfunction, Pain Syndromes such as Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Issues: The immune system correlates to the T1 andT2 areas of your spine — high levels of heat in that region can indicate immune dysfunction. On the other hand, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and aching joints are just a few complaints that correlate to cool patterns seen at this area.
- Stroke Risks
- Vascular Disorders (Raynaud’s disease, etc.)
IS MEDICAL THERMOGRAPHY FDA REGISTRED?
Yes, digital infrared thermal imaging was FDA registered in 1982.
ARE THERMOGRAM COVERED BY INSURANCE?
Since medical thermography is considered “out-of-network” and “elective”, most insurance carriers will deny coverage. Please check with your insurance carrier directly if you can get reimbursed. We will provide you with the super-bill for the service.
WHO WILL REVIEW AND EVALUATE MY THERMOGRAM AND WRITE THE REPORT?
All our thermography scans are sent to be interpreted by adequately trained and experienced medical doctors who hold board certifications as Thermologists. The report usually takes 7 to 10 days, and the results are provided for you. You are welcome to discuss them and any questions you might have with your health care provider or one of our naturopaths.
HOW CAN I TRUST THAT THERMORGAPHY IS VALID?
Over 30 years of clinical use and more than 800 peer-reviewed studies in the medical literature have established thermography as a safe and effective means to examine the human body. In this database well over 250,000 women have been included as study participants. The numbers of participants in many studies are very large ranging from 37,000 to 118,000 women. Some of these studies followed patients up to 12 years. Breastthermography has an average sensitivity and specificity of 90%.
Extensive research and investigation performed at prestigious medical teaching institutions such as Johns Hopkins University Medical School, have established normal values for the distribution of heat in each region of the body. Variation from these normal values are measured and correlated with suspected injuries or diseases in the same way a blood or urine laboratory study is interpreted. Since the pattern of surface heat reflects the interior structure, we can “see” your neurologic response through thermography.
IS ALTERNATIVE NATUROPATHIC CENTER AN APPROVED THERMOGRAPHY CLINIC?
The thermography clinic at Alternative Naturopatic Center is approved by American College of Clinical Thermography (ACCT).
BREAST THERMOGRAM EXAMINATION - WHO, WHEN AND HOW OFTEN?
Every woman would benefit from including thermography as part of her regular breast and general health care.
Breast cancers can be very aggressive in younger women. According to American Cancer Society approximately 15% of all breast cancers occur in women under the age of 45. There are no clear guidelines for the use of imaging procedures during these years. With the addition of Digital Infrared Imaging, women in this age group have a tool that they can add to their regular breast health check-ups. Also, it can be highly beneficial for women of all ages who, for many reasons, are unable or unwilling to undergo routine mammography.
GENERAL BREAST THERMOGRAPHY GUIDELINES:
Initial infrared scan by age 20
20-30 years of age – every 3 years
30 years of age and over – every year
- initially you have two thermograms three months apart to establish your baseline.
- follow-ups should be based on the risk rating seen in your study (anywhere between 6 months and 5 years).
- optional assessment of other risk factors based on your biochemical individuality and lifestyle factors.
Visit our website dedicated to breast thermogram examination for case studies and recommended reading.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE BREAST THERMOGRAM APPOINTMENT?
The procedure is done in our office in carefully monitored environment. Prior to having the thermogram you will be asked to sit on a stool wearing only a loose cotton gown disrobed from the waist up in order to allow your skin to cool to room temperature. You will remove all jewelry and clothes from the part of the body being scanned (for full body scans you leave underpants on). Your hair needs to be pulled up away from your neck to allow complete exposure of your upper chest and neck. A folding screen ensures complete privacy. After a few minutes of letting your body temperature stabilize to the room temperature, our certified medical thermographer will then focus the infrared camera to obtain images of your breasts in several specific views: frontal, left side, and right side. We expect your appointment should take no more than 30 to 45 minutes from start to finish.
The procedure is both comfortable and safe using no radiation or compression.
HOW DO I PREPARE MYSELF FOR THE BREAST THERMOGRAM?
There are a few guidelines to prepare for a thermal scan:
- Do not smoke for 3 hours before the test
- Do not have massage, physical therapy, or electromyography on the day before thermogram is performed
- Do not use deodorants, body cream and lotions, or liniments on day of the test
- Stay out of strong sunlight
- Avoid heavy exercise and tight-fitting clothing on the day of the test
- Minimize spicy foods, hot beverages, and gum chewing on the day of the thermogram