Thermography: An Option for Prevention
June 8th 2012 · 0 Comments
BY Donna Farrell RN, CCT, BA, MA
The current health scorecard of the United States is distressingly unacceptable. A promising component of the new Healthcare Reform involves moving toward a more proactive healthcare system by embedding prevention and wellness programs into primary care.
Aside from the “Food Pyramid,” American people are left to their own devices for the cost of preventive services/consultation. Luckily, there are many caring and professional practitioners in our community offering a wide range of alternative options for proactive consumers. As a Registered Nurse, I am committed to improve the health scorecard of the U.S. by devoting my time and energy to preventive medicine. In light of this commitment, it was an easy decision to offer thermography services.
Thermography is a science that involves the measuring of surface temperatures by observing infrared emissions. Thermography is mostly known for its role in the military, as it was a technology originally designed for use in “night vision” during WWII. The development of faster computers and high definition infrared cameras enhanced the possibilities of using thermography as a dynamic medical examination tool. In 1982 the United States F.D.A. recognized infrared thermography as a valid and complementary diagnosis method for medical practice.
Medical Thermography works on the principles that our bodies give off heat/energy that is not visible to the naked eye. Furthermore, areas of distress give off more heat (e.g., inflammation) then normal tissue. The high definition infrared camera is used to measure these temperature variations producing images that reveal sites of abnormal tissue activity. Thus, the medical practitioner is provided an additional diagnostic input which enhances clinical assessment and rational decision-making in the development of patient treatment strategies. More importantly, the information is an exceptional way to monitor personal health.
Clinical applications of thermography include the monitoring of:
- Breast health
- Cardio-Vascular Disease
- General health
- Blood Profusion
- Diagnosis and Management of Pain Syndromes
- Inflammation(musculoskeletal, spine, joints, sinus, DVT)
- Thyroid Disease
- Lymph System
Thermography is especially suited for breast health. Women deemed as “high risk” (breast cancer in their family history, women on birth control, those with Fibrocystic Breast Disease and women with breast implants) can be scanned as early as their 20s. Women who are pregnant or nursing are also excellent candidates for thermography. The procedure is non-invasive, privately screened, and painless. It involves NO body contact, and emits NO radiation.
Thermography offers early detection (i.e., physiological changes in the breast can show up years before a mammogram can detect a mass) of some types of breast cancer.
“As breast cancer is a progressive disease, the point at which intervention takes place becomes critically important. To make a difference, practitioners must start to place emphasis on detecting the vascular signs of disease in its earliest formative stages, years before current clinical detection” Jeanne Stryker, M.D. Board Certified Radiologist.
The medical thermography procedure is similar to having your picture taken by a professional photographer. A certified healthcare practitioner, a thermographer, takes the pictures. The images are then sent to a professional interpretation service where Board Certified MD’s, experienced in the interpretation of infrared images, provide written reports of findings including the client’s images.
If the thermography scan indicates suspicious areas, the client is referred to a number of appropriate healthcare professionals in their area. For example, if excessive lymph congestion is noted in the breasts, then lymph-drainage would be an appropriate referral. If carotid artery inflammation is noted, then lifestyle intervention and further testing may be appropriate.
Many insurance companies will cover the cost of thermography, which averages between $150 and $500, if given the proper documentation. There are national efforts underway to mandate the coverage. Until then, it is important to note that clients do not need a prescription to have a scan done. People are entitled to take ownership of their health!
In conclusion, medical thermography offers a safe and simple way for people to monitor their health. It serves as one small step toward a more proactive healthcare system that can have a huge impact since the infrared camera can detect abnormalities before you feel symptoms!
Donna Farrell RN, CCT, BA, MA is a retired chemistry teacher (15 years) and currently a Registered Nurse. In the Utica area, she is offering thermography services at the office of Carolyne Cesari. For more information about thermography please visit Picture of Health, Preventive Imaging on the internet at www.phpimaging.com.