What is medical digital infrared thermal imaging?
Medical DITI is a painless, non-invasive, radiation-free test used to detect abnormal physiology. It is the best screening technology for showing inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is proven to be at the root of many common diseases that can impact health in various regions of the body. Medical DITI can be used to monitor almost any region in the body. Regional and full-body thermal scans can be useful in assessing a variety of conditions and can assist you and your health practitioner to develop an action plan to reverse inflammation.
Why is DITI useful for breast imaging?
Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging (DITI) offers the opportunity of earlier detection of breast disease. Each individual has their own thermal pattern (normally symmetric) that is accurate and static throughout their lifetime. Any changes to a normal "thermal fingerprint" caused by early cell changes (pathology) will become increasingly apparent over time. Monitoring changes over measured periods of time with DITI is the most efficient means of identifying subjects who require further investigation. DITI is a non-invasive test. There is no contact of any kind with the body, no radiation, and the procedure is painless. The scanning system merely detects and records the infrared radiation that is emitting from the patient's body. Utilizing sophisticated infrared technology and innovative computer software, thermal imaging technicians simply capture a digitized image of the breast in the form of an infrared thermogram, or heat picture. Results are then recorded and kept for further comparison over a recommended monitoring period. Having the ability to record and monitor changes in temperature over time is the best use of thermal imaging as a tool for preventing future disease.
Is a thermal scan different than a mammogram or ultrasound?
Yes. Unlike mammography and ultrasound, Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging (DITI) is a test of physiology. It detects and records the infrared heat radiating from the surface of the body. It can help in early detection and monitoring of abnormal physiology and the establishment of risk factors for the development or existence of cancer. Mammography and ultrasound are tests of anatomy. They look at structure. When a tumor has grown to a size that is large enough and dense enough to block an x-ray beam (mammography) or sound wave (ultrasound), it produces an image that can be detected by a trained radiologist. Neither mammogram, ultrasound, nor DITI can diagnose cancer. Only a biopsy can diagnose cancer. But, when DITI, mammograms, ultrasounds, and clinical exams are used together, the best possible evaluation of breast health can be made.
Is thermal imaging a replacement for mammograms or ultrasounds?
No. While some women make a personal choice to use thermal imaging instead of mammography for breast screening, other women who cannot use mammography for number of reasons can use thermography instead of mammography. Most women use thermal imaging in addition to mammography and/or ultrasound. We believe that DITI should be viewed as a complimentary, not competitive, tool to mammography and ultrasound. DITI has the ability to identify patients at the highest level of risk and actually increase the effective usage of mammograms and ultrasounds. Research confirms that DITI, when used with mammography, can improve the sensitivity of breast cancer detection. The ultimate choice should be made on an individual basis with regard to clinical history, personal circumstances, and medical advice.
Is there any harmful radiation in a thermal scan?
No. DITI detects and records the infrared heat radiating from the surface of the body. There is no contact with the body or harmful radiation.
Does it hurt to have a scan taken?
No. There is no contact with the body or painful breast compression.
Who should have this test?
All women can benefit from breast thermography screening. However, it is especially appropriate for younger women (30 - 50) whose denser breast tissue makes it more difficult for mammography to be effective. Also for women of all ages who, for many reasons, are unable to undergo routine mammography.
If I have a suspicious mammogram or breast lump, should I have a thermogram?
Yes. The information provided by a thermography study can contribute useful additional information which ultimately helps your doctor with case management decisions. It is also instrumental in the progress of any treatment protocol.
How often should I have a thermal scan?
Once a reliable baseline has been established, which normally requires two studies 3 months apart, you should have an ongoing annual comparative study to detect any suspicious functional (physiological) changes, warranting further investigation. Depending on your personal history and risk for breast disease, your doctor can advise how often you should have a thermal scan repeated.
Have clinical tests been done on thermal imaging?
Yes! Over 800 peer-reviewed studies on breast thermography exist in the index medicus literature. In this database, well over 300,000 women have been included as study participants. the numbers of participants in many studies are very large (10,000, 37,000, 60,000, 85,000, etc.) Some of these studies have followed patients for up to 12 years.
Why isn’t breast thermography more readily available and widely used?
We asked the same question. The answer is somewhat political, but this may help explain: When thermography was first explored for breast imaging, it was viewed as competitive to mammograms. It was tested and evaluated to see if it was safer and more diagnostically accurate than mammography. These comparisons should not have been made, as you cannot compare tests of physiology and anatomy. In particular, when thermography was tested on younger women, thermographic abnormalities were detected many times, but mammograms did not detect any tumors. The results were considered "false positives". The more patients of younger age screened with the so-called false positive, the more suspicion was placed on thermography. Years later, in re-call studies, a large percentage of these women had developed breast cancer or other breast disease, in the exact location of the abnormal "false-positive" thermogram, thus validating its early warning role. Thermography's only "error" was that it was too accurate too early, and the results couldn't be corroborated at the time.
Secondly, thermography was being used in sports medicine, dentistry, podiatry, chiropractic, orthopedics, rheumatology, and neurology in a variety of support or adjunctive diagnostic roles. It was soon realized that thermography could clearly, objectively, and easily demonstrate the physiological component of pain and injury, especially to the spinal column, due to car accidents, job injuries, and a host of other "tort" related law suits. Everyone involved had benefited from these positive test findings, which could clearly be shown to a jury. Everyone, that is, except the defendant insurance industry.
Needless to say, the insurance industry in the United States placed an all-out effort to diminish the value of thermography in courts of law due to high litigation costs. Eventually, lobbying efforts at the AMA's House of delegates and at Medicare, brought about the removal of thermographic coverage by most insurance companies and the greatly reduced utilization of thermography in the United States. This was most unfortunate for the patients who could clearly benefit from thermal imaging.