11 February 2014

Thermal Body Mapping Addendum

I wasn’t able to get to an airport since the release of Friday’s blog post, Mapping Emotions, so I’ll have to pass on asking the TSA to try mapping body emotions with one of its devices. That said, the painted body maps of emotion in the study I reviewed in that post reminded me of thermal images after they’d been enhanced with colors corresponding to radiative temperatures.

Although my experience with thermal imaging has always been from aircraft and satellite, I was interested to see its use in medical imaging. It should at least be of value where dissipation of heat through the skin is diagnostic and where environmental factors can be controlled. Here are some examples:

Thermal images of abnormal (left) and normal (right) lower backs, where relative brightness corresponds to relative temperature, i.e., lighter is warmer, darker is cooler (from 2004 paper www.biomedical-engineering-online.com/content/3/1/19).
Thermal images for which the relative black and white densities (previous photo) have been "sliced" and assigned colors that correspond to temperature differences of abnormal (left) and normal lower backs (from 2004 paper www.biomedical-engineering-online.com/content/3/1/19).
Thermal imaging used to monitor healing following surgery. Example compares right (A) and left knees eight days after total knee replacement surgery on right knee. (from 2011 paper link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10195-011-0135-1/fulltext.html).
Thermal imaging used to study (left image) chronic forefoot inflammation following injury to left foot and (right image) rheumatoid arthritis of right knee. (from 2012 paper iopscience.iop.org/0967-3334/33/3/R33/article).
Thermal imaging used to assess effects of stress on hands of patients with different medical conditions or injuries. (from 2012 paper iopscience.iop.org/0967-3334/33/3/R33/article).

The 2012 paper cited as the source for the last two photos is a review, Infrared Thermal Imaging in Medicine, from the journal, Physiological Measurement. iopscience.iop.org/0967-3334/33/3/R33/article.

(For those involved in thermal remote sensing, note that the emissivity of human skin is on the order of 0.98.)

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