Thermography is a screening method in which an infrared camera is used to capture the body’s thermal image. Various areas of the body can be screened to generate a thermal image that can help in the understanding of any inflammation or abnormal cell growth.
Thermography is a non-invasive health assessment method that aids in the assessing of underlying issues such as inflammation. It does this by detecting heated areas and thermal patterns in the body with an infrared camera.
How long does it take? The imaging procedure, including the time to acclimate to the room will take 20 to 30 minutes.
Is breast thermography safe? Yes, it is FDA approved in the United States and has been used in Canada and in Europe for over fifty years. Thermography is a non-invasive test. This means that nothing is sent into your body. It simply is creating an image of your breasts by measuring body heat. There is no contact of any kind, nor is there any pain due to compression or radiation. In fact, there is absolutely no contact of any kind with your breast.
Can thermography diagnose breast cancer? No. Thermography, like mammography is a screening tool. Thermography identifies abnormal physiological changes in your breasts that may be malignant. Mammography, is an x-ray, as such it identifies certain structures in the breast that can potentially be malignant. With both Mammography and Thermography, definitive diagnosis is done by other procedures such as a biopsy or lumpectomy. Many of our patients come in after an abnormal “lets watch this area” mammography, and correlate the area to be watched with a thermographic image of the same area. If the thermography shows an issue in the same area, the patient will have more information with which to make an informed decision.
Does thermography replace mammography? No, we recommend that thermography be used together with mammography and other structural examinations for the most comprehensive screening and the earliest possible detection.Is breast thermography covered by health insurance plans? No. As of yet, none of public health insurance plans cover the cost of Thermography. However there are more and more private insurance companies that may cover the cost of this examination.
Have any studies been done regarding the accuracy of Thermography? Yes, hundreds of studies have been written up in medical journals. For further information, please go to this page.
Do I need a referral from my doctor? A referral is not necessary.
How often will I need a follow up? This depends on the results of your initial examination. With no unusual changes noted and depending on your age, we will recommend re-imaging annually or every 2 years. If your test results show changes, depending on the level of risk, you will be asked to have a re-examination sooner.
I have breast implants – is thermography safe? Yes. Breast implants do not interfere with thermography. Breast Thermography is painless and safe, using no radiation or compression. It can be used effectively and safely for all women including pregnant or nursing women, women with dense breast tissue, and women with breast implants.
Why do we plunge our hands into cold water during imaging examination? What is a cold challenge test? You will be asked to submerge your hands into cool water with a temperature of (50F or 10C) for 60 seconds after your baseline images have been taken. This is known as a ‘cold challenge’ or functional test – cold water will lead to constriction of your blood vessels which is a normal physiological response. Another set of images will be taken for comparison and analysis to baseline. Areas of the breast that do not cool down normally or respond correctly to this basic test of physiology will be considered as suspicious and evaluated further. There are several physiological factors that may interfere with this normal cool down, one of them will be cancerous tumor that takes much longer to cool down compared to the surrounding health tissue due to its active state of metabolism. If the cold challenge test is done correctly it will yield consistent results. Some imaging centers do not do this, we feel to the detriment of their patients. To dispense with a test of physiology for whatever reason is a mistake.