Your body emits invisible thermal energy in the form of infrared energy (heat), and these heat patterns can be used to reveal much of what is going on in your body. These heat patterns may not yet be felt through symptoms like pain or discomfort.
What Is Thermography?
Medical or clinical thermography is the science of taking images of your body’s thermal energy and using the information revealed to detect abnormalities and correlations with health issues.
The theory behind thermal imaging, also called digital infrared thermal imaging (DITI), is that normal and abnormal tissues have different heat signatures. So, a thermal image, when read by an experienced examiner and run through the proper computer analyses, may reveal the infrared evidence of a potential or actual health issue that may not yet be detectable by other means, such as an X-ray, CAT scan, or MRI.
Advantages of Thermography
With early warnings of a potential problem, you can take immediate action to address the issue with your primary care physician, providing the time to carefully consider all of your treatment options and perhaps even heading off the problem before it becomes serious.
In many cases, thermography can be useful to track changes in a condition. Once you have a baseline thermal reading, subsequent thermograms will reveal temperature deviations over time. This may provide valuable information to you and your physician for gauging whether a condition is getting better or not, and whether a treatment is working well or not.
Medical thermal imaging is one of the only reliable ways to detect Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome, and it is FDA approved as an adjunct breast cancer and breast health screening tool when used along with mammography and clinical breast exam.
What Can Thermography Reveal?
Although thermography cannot see deep into the body, it can detect many of the thermal indications of abnormalities near the surface, including those often associated with:
• Inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis
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Ideally, thermography is used as an adjunct screening method. When combined with more traditional diagnostic options, it can be a valuable source of additional information. However, there are hundreds of examples where thermal images provided the first, and earliest, clue of a developing condition, providing a window of opportunity to address the condition before it became serious or life-threatening.
Monitoring Breast Health with Thermography
Thermal image of healthy breasts
Benefits of Thermography for Breast Screening
Thermography offers the following benefits:
• It is non-invasive and free of ionizing radiation.
• There is no need for breast compression, so it's pain-free.
• It is safe for pregnant women and nursing mothers.
• Young women with a family history of breast cancer can start screening early without worrying about cumulative
• There is less or next to no degradation of image for women with implants or dense (fibrocystic) breast tissue.
• When the thermal images are taken properly, they can provide more coverage into the under-breast and underarm
areas than X-ray imaging can.
• Thermal imaging provides a different kind of information than X-ray mammography, “seeing” the tissue in a way that
X-rays cannot (heat changes that may correlate with tissue changes, possibly signaling the early stages of a developing
• Using thermography along with mammography, self-exams, and clinical breast exams provides you with the most
comprehensive range of information possible about the state of your breast health.
How Do You Judge Quality Thermography?
Not all thermography clinics are created equal. To judge quality, seek answers to the following questions:
* Was your body properly cooled? To get good thermal images, your body must be cooled for about 15 minutes in an
environmentally controlled room kept at about 68 degrees F.
* Were you advised on pre-screening procedures? There are activities and behaviors you must refrain from for up to five
days before your thermal imaging session to get the most diagnostically useful images.
* What type of infrared camera is being used? Static or mounted cameras can limit the kinds of images the thermographer can
take. It’s easier to get many different angles and to properly cover areas according to a person’s anatomy using a hand-held
* Who is interpreting the thermal images? Assessments of all thermographic images must be made by a well-trained physician.
Our thermal images are read and interpreted by John Pittman, MD, who underwent certification training with the American
Academy of Thermology (AAT) in 2012. In 2015, Dr. Pittman underwent re-certification training by the AAT, focusing on new
guidelines for other applications of thermal imaging.
* Was the image-taking thorough? For breast screening, all parts of the breasts must be imaged, including the undersides. This
requires that the images be taken while you are lying down on an exam table.
Why Choose ILS Thermography Service?
At Integrative Life Solutions, we follow the highest industry standards and proper cool-down protocols, using a hand-held camera in an environmentally controlled room. Our technicians are trained by an AAT-certified physician and senior member; all images are interpreted by a AAT-certified physician
You can have confidence in Integrative Life Solution’s Thermography Service and all the advantages it offers you over many other clinics. We offer full-service thermography, including full-body scans, partial body scans, and breast health scans.
See the "Thermography: Frequently Asked Questions" page for more information about thermography in general, and information about breast screening specifically.
Important News Flash!
In late 2013, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a law that all healthcare facilities that perform X-ray mammography exams must, by federal law, provide patients information identifying if they have dense breast tissue (40% of women do). The reason is that "the presence of dense tissue may make it more difficult to detect abnormalities in the breast [through X-ray mammography] and may be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer." Mammographers and physicians must alert women to other screening options.
Thermography is an important option for women with dense breast tissue because it is not looking at tissue but at thermal (heat) variations in the breasts. The density of the breast tissue does not affect the scan. If you are one of the 40% of women with dense breast tissue, call ILS today to talk about how thermography can become part of your breast health screening routine. It's also a good option for women with breast implants, because there is no breast compression.
Thermography is by appointment only.
Thermography Forms and Insurance Information
All thermography clients will need to read and follow the Thermography Pre-scan Instructions before their appointment. It is important to follow those instructions to ensure a quality scan.
Please download and complete the appropriate Thermography Client Information Form (either the Breast Scan or the Body Scan form, depending on which kind of scan you are having). There are also several educational forms explaining breast scan procedures and breast scan interpretation and grading results. If you want to have your scan results sent to a healthcare provider of your choice, please also download and complete the Thermography Authorization and Release Form, which gives us permission to share your scan results with the designated medical professional. All forms are available at the clinic, but it saves time if you complete them ahead of time and bring them with you.
Payment is due at the time of service. When you receive your scan results from us, you will be provided with ICD diagnosis and CPT codes to file for reimbursement. Many insurance companies will not reimburse you for thermography. Check with your medical health insurer to see if yours does. Getting a referral for thermography from your primary care physician or healthcare provider before you schedule your scan may improve your chances for medical insurance reimbursement.
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