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Infrared Thermography as a Support Tool for Screening and Early Diagnosis in Emergencies

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Sufficient methods to reliably diagnose sport injuries and to specify the lesions produced exist; however, these methods are not simultaneously real-time, low-cost, harmless and easy-to-use as screening methods for emergency trauma services. This study attempts to establish the capacity of infrared thermography (IRT) to discriminate injuries and to evaluate its applicability in emergency trauma scenarios. The sample consisted of 201 patients in the Emergency Unit at the CEMTRO clinic in Madrid (108 males and 93 females). The average and maximal temperatures of the skin (T sk) from the injured and uninjured region of interest (ROI) were collected from a thermogram registered with a T335 FLIR infrared camera, and the results were compared with the diagnosis of the emergency unit practitioner. The T sk differences between the injured and the uninjured areas (T sk) were significant (p < 0.05) for both the average (ΔT sk = +0.5 °C) and maximum (T sk = +0.6 °C) temperatures. These side-to-side ΔT sk data agree with the thresholds of asymmetry found in previous studies. The results of this pilot study, arranged by injured ROI, type of injury, medical diagnosis of the practitioner and evolution time of the injury, showed that IRT had a good specificity for detecting temperature asymmetries on injured areas. The influence of the usage of ice and anti-inflammatory creams on the ΔT sk results was analysed using some of the excluded cases from the general study. The results of this article indicate that thermography is a valid tool to determinate the existence of an injury. When a high resolution infrared imager is used and an appropriate protocol is followed, IRT can be a good support tool, providing practitioners with additional information to correctly identify a sport injury.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2015

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  • Journal of Medical Imaging and Health Informatics (JMIHI) is a medium to disseminate novel experimental and theoretical research results in the field of biomedicine, biology, clinical, rehabilitation engineering, medical image processing, bio-computing, D2H2, and other health related areas.
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