Advanced Health has been innovating for years to discover ways to help our patients overcome various ailments and improve their lives. Recently, we have added Thermal Digital Imaging, or Thermography, to our suite of health services. Thermography is instrumental in early cancer detection, as well as the diagnosis of chronic pain and blood flow abnormalities. Since it has become an invaluable tool for us we would like to share with you this technology, how it works and its various applications.
Thermography uses an infrared camera (observing radiation in the long-infrared range of the EM spectrum, between 9,000 and 1,400 µm) to observe the blood flow and heat patterns through various bodily tissues. It’s the same technology that first-responders like firefighters use to see the layout of a room, even through smoke, or to track the source of a fire in low visibility. Thermography is an excellent way to glimpse the inner workings of the body non-invasively, without any sort of potentially damaging radiation or inconvenient electromagnetic fields. It provides an effective diagnostic adjunct tool especially in conjunction with other kinds of imaging and has no associated risk, unlike with CT scans, mammograms, and x-rays.
A patient undergoing a thermographic imaging session will undress long enough for their body to acclimate to the ambient room temperature. A patient will then be asked to stand in front of the thermography imaging apparatus, for a series of still images, or thermograms, from a number of angles.
THERMOGRAPHY FOR CANCER DETECTION
Cancer cells divide much more quickly than healthy cells, and consume more oxygen to do so. That process creates extra waste, heat, and cause oxygen to effectively combust. As such, surface-level cancers may be visible on thermographic images.
Thermography has been used to look for breast cancer cells. While it isn’t a substitute for mammography, thermography helps detect the development of cancer cells 10 years earlier than any other diagnostic scan. It is particularly effective in women with dense breasts and for those under age 50 for whom mammograms isn’t as effective.
It’s also important to confirm any results, as thermograms are prone to occasional false-positives. Non-cancerous conditions, like mastitis, can also show up in scans as hot-spots (i.e. due to inflammation).
In fact, most inflammation can be seen on thermographic images, so thermography is an excellent way to diagnose pain or spot underlying injuries, tightness, arthritis, and more.
THERMOGRAPHY FOR UNDERSTANDING AND TREATING CHRONIC PAIN
Whether it’s been caused by damage, injury, muscle tension, infection, or other causes, chronic pain can often be hard to pin down. The source of the pain doesn’t always accord with the specific site of injury; for example, referred pain is hard to trace, can be the most debilitating.
With thermography, stress points show up visibly warmer. Like traffic congestion seen from a helicopter, the parts of the body that aren’t working in harmony clump and grind together and that overproduction of heat, free radicals and poor oxygenation from the concentrated area of concern shows up clearly on a thermogram.
Chronic pain, in particular, can be understood more easily through thermography, since the usual diagnostic approach often produces nebulous results. An effective treatment might not present perceptible results to the patient right away, but the decrease in muscle tension or the ease of blood flow shows up right away in thermographic images.
USING THERMOGRAPHY TO UNDERSTAND BLOOD FLOW
Vascular and lymphatic blood flow are also readily visible under thermography. Unlike several other diagnostic approaches for vascular or intravenous diseases, thermography is noninvasive and generally very effective, especially in the earlier stages.
Thermal changes can result from constriction, like kinks in the line, or from inflammation. As well, thermography can diagnose systemic conditions in cases where the thermal signature of the body is drifting significantly from baseline along key points.
THERMOGRAPHY AT ADVANCED HEALTH
At Advanced Health, we’re now using thermography to help our patients diagnose and treat chronic pain, inflammation, blood flow issues, and more. Thermography gives us a chance to observe the mechanics of the body in real-time, by observing thermal changes and hot-spots. Thermography is an FDA-approved technology since 1957 that aids in diagnosing injury, tightness, the causes of pain, vascular and lymphatic blood flow abnormalities, and more. It can be an effective way to catch certain cancers, like breast cancers, or better understand cognitive decline/dementia as part of a more comprehensive diagnostic process.
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