Thermal imaging in medicine

  • Jaka Ogorevc Faculty of Electrical Engineering, University of Ljubljana
  • Igor Pušnik Faculty of Electrical Engineering, University of Ljubljana
  • Gregor Geršak Faculty of Electrical Engineering, University of Ljubljana
  • Jovan Bojkovski Faculty of Electrical Engineering, University of Ljubljana
  • Janko Drnovšek Faculty of Electrical Engineering, University of Ljubljana
Keywords: thermal imaging, thermogram, diagnostics, body temperature, standardization



Introduction: Body temperature monitoring is one of the oldest and still one of the most basic diagnostic methods in medicine. In recent years thermal imaging has been increasingly used in measurements of body temperature for diagnostic purposes. Thermal imaging is non-invasive, non-contact method for measuring surface body temperature. Method is quick, painless and patient is not exposed to ionizing radiation or any other body burden.

Application of thermal imaging in medicine: Pathological conditions can be indicated as hyper- or hypothermic patterns in many cases. Thermal imaging is presented as a diagnostic method, which can detect such thermal anomalies. This article provides an overview of the thermal imaging applications in various fields of medicine. Thermal imaging has proven to be a suitable method for human febrile temperature screening, for the detection of sites of fractures and infections, a reliable diagnostic tool in the detection of breast cancer and determining the type of skin cancer tumour. It is useful in monitoring the course of a therapy after spinal cord injury, in the detection of food allergies and detecting complications at hemodialysis and is also very effective at the course of treatment of breast reconstruction after mastectomy. With thermal imaging is possible to determine the degrees of burns and early detection of osteomyelitis in diabetic foot phenomenon. The most common and the oldest application of thermal imaging in medicine is the field of rheumatology.

Recommendations for use and standards: Essential performance of a thermal imaging camera, measurement method, preparation of a patient and environmental conditions are very important for proper interpretation of measurement results in medical applications of thermal imaging. Standard for screening thermographs was formed for the human febrile temperature screening application.

Conclusion: Based on presented examples it is shown that thermal imaging can be widely used also in the field of medicine. Implementation of every new technology in a daily clinical practice requires large number of measurements with such equipment compared by reference method for the purpose of clinical validation. The knowledge of measurement problematics is crucial. Collaboration between physicians and engineers on multi- and interdisciplinary level is of high importance for thermal imaging to win confidence of physicians and to gain reliability as a clinical diagnostic tool.


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How to Cite
Ogorevc J, Pušnik I, Geršak G, Bojkovski J, Drnovšek J. Thermal imaging in medicine. ZdravVestn [Internet]. 14Dec.2015 [cited 17Sep.2019];84(11). Available from:
Biomedical engineering