Thermography and thermometry in the assessment of diabetic neuropathic foot: a case for furthering the role of thermal techniques

Int J Low Extrem Wounds. 2006 Dec;5(4):250-60. doi: 10.1177/1534734606293481.


There are currently 3 established techniques employed routinely to determine the risk of foot ulceration in the patient with diabetes mellitus. These are the assessment of circulation, neuropathy, and foot pressure. These assessments are widely used clinically as well as in the research domain with an aim to prevent the onset of foot ulceration. Routine neuropathic evaluation includes the assessment of sensory loss in the plantar skin of the foot using both the Semmes Weinstein monofilament and the biothesiometer. Thermological measurements of the foot to assess responses to thermal stimuli and cutaneous thermal discrimination threshold are relatively uncommon. Indeed, there remains uncertainty regarding the importance of thermal changes in the development of foot ulcers. Applications of thermography and thermometry in lower extremity wounds, vascular complications, and neuropathic complications have progressed as a result of improved imaging software and transducer technology. However, the uncertainty associated with the specific thermal modality, the costs, and processing times render its adaptation to the clinic. Therefore, wider adoption of thermological measurements has been limited. This article reviews thermal measurement techniques specific to diabetic foot such as electrical contact thermometry, cutaneous thermal discrimination thresholds, infrared thermography, and liquid crystal thermography.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Temperature / physiology*
  • Diabetic Foot / diagnosis*
  • Diabetic Foot / physiopathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Thermography / methods*
  • Thermometers*