Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging (Thermography) Assesses Health Risks
Infrared cameras were initially designed for military applications; however, the most exciting applications being used are in medical settings. Digital infrared thermal imaging (DITI) is a non-invasive, radiation-free procedure that utilizes an infrared thermal camera to record temperatures emitted from the body. By imaging thermal patterns, DITI may correlate areas of heat with possible inflammation or neovascularity (new blood vessel growth). Areas of cold often represent lack of circulation or nerve dysfunction, and can represent areas of unexplained pain. Thermography is a study of physiological changes that precede structural changes like tumors, according to Dr. Carla Garcia, owner of Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW)Thermography.
Garcia is a doctor of Oriental medicine, (board certified in New Mexico and by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine), with some traditional medical schooling. She has specialized in DITI and other forms of thermography for 20 years and focuses strictly on thermographic imaging. Because many patients were traveling from Dallas, in April 2017, she opened the Dallas-Fort Worth location. Abbey Robinson is the certified clinical thermographer and doula that does the imaging. Thermography reports are written by licensed medical doctors (not computer generated) and sent directly to the patient and their referring doctor or practitioner. Each report is personalized to the patient and includes color images.
Some forms of thermography use a wand to record temperatures or an infrared camera not specifically designed for medical use. Garcia explains that the Meditherm at DFW Thermography use a carefully calibrated system that is not affected by thermal drift (changes in ambient temperature) or by what the patient drinks or eats before an appointment. “This means thermal findings are repeatable and makes comparisons to future scans more accurate,” says Garcia.
Each image is created from 84,000 temperatures. Although grayscale images are available, reports show pictures of color-coded thermal patterns where heat is represented by red and cold is represented in blue. Breast scans are five to six images, and full-body scans are comprised of 25 to 30 images.
There is no pain or ionizing radiation associated with thermography. Garcia notes that thermal patterns in a breast thermogram may be an indication for lymph congestion, inflammation, estrogen dominance or neovascularity that accompanies a developing tumor.
Garcia emphasizes that DITI is a risk assessment tool and is not meant for diagnosis. Its purpose is to provide information for the patient to make lifestyle changes or seek advice for treatment. “It empowers women to be proactive with their health,” she says. In addition to breast and full-body imaging, she says their partner company is developing a Women’s Health Check that will include images of the thyroid area, as well as the breasts, “because there is an empirical correlation between thyroid dysfunction and breast disease.”
Dallas-Fort Worth Thermography also provides information on ways to be proactive. Patients are encouraged to do breast self-exam and a how-to video is available on the website. “We encourage women not to wear underwire bras because it contributes to lymph congestion that can lead to inflammation, that can contribute to breast disease. We also discourage the use of antiperspirants that block lymph drainage through the underarms and prevents natural detoxification through perspiration.”
Dallas-Fort Worth Thermography is located at 2300 Valley View Lane, Ste. 865, in Irving. For appointments and more information, call 469-333-0623 or visit DallasFortWorthBreastThermography.com.