Thermography is an infrared imaging that can detect changes in breast tissue and produce a high-resolution image of the breast skin temperature. The image can then be analyzed using thermal vascular mapping for skin temperature and changes, even the slightest change. This is testing that has guidelines with some specific protocols in place. It also has some limitations in certain situations that can dictate the necessity for the infrared testing and how it can benefit the overall treatment plan.
Infrared Imaging Indications
In cases that infrared imaging used there are guidelines and with indications it can assess changes in breast tissue early. The indications include:
- The vasomotor mapping of breast skin temperature and skin vascular patterning.
- Physiologic response of breast tissue monitoring.
- Monitoring of breast temperature and vascular patterning for post mastectomy, post breast reconstruction, fibrocystic disease, or because of radiation concerns.
- The infrared imaging can be used in combination with radiation therapy and chemotherapy as a way to monitor.
Contraindications are situations that the procedure should not be used or caution should be used if the testing is done. This can include patients using the infrared imaging as the only method of diagnosing, and with mastectomy patients, it can be a unique situation. In cases where full consent cannot be obtained protocols must be in place for the procedure to take place.
One limitation this kind of testing in rare cases it is possible a false negative can result. Generally, it is in cases where the issue is deeper within the tissue. Another way a false negative can exist is if symmetric, bilateral pathologies co-exist.
Avoiding Problems and Getting Accurate Results
Prior to this testing to make certain it is accurate there are some rules that should be followed. These are similar to other types of testing that have certain restrictions to ensure accurate results including not using creams, lotions or powders the day of the exam. The person having the infrared imaging should not smoke for at least four hours before the test. Also, deodorants should be avoided and shaving under arms the day of the testing. The technician should be made aware of any medications, especially the use of beta blockers.
The testing is assessed using criteria other than the imaging, including age, weight, points are added for age at pregnancy, the number of years on birth control and if hormones have been taken.