Infrared thermal imaging in medicine

Physiol Meas. 2012 Mar;33(3):R33-46. doi: 10.1088/0967-3334/33/3/R33. Epub 2012 Feb 28.


This review describes the features of modern infrared imaging technology and the standardization protocols for thermal imaging in medicine. The technique essentially uses naturally emitted infrared radiation from the skin surface. Recent studies have investigated the influence of equipment and the methods of image recording. The credibility and acceptance of thermal imaging in medicine is subject to critical use of the technology and proper understanding of thermal physiology. Finally, we review established and evolving medical applications for thermal imaging, including inflammatory diseases, complex regional pain syndrome and Raynaud's phenomenon. Recent interest in the potential applications for fever screening is described, and some other areas of medicine where some research papers have included thermal imaging as an assessment modality. In certain applications thermal imaging is shown to provide objective measurement of temperature changes that are clinically significant.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis / diagnosis
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndromes / diagnosis
  • Diagnostic Imaging / instrumentation
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods
  • Diagnostic Imaging / standards
  • Fever / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / diagnosis
  • Infrared Rays
  • Medicine / instrumentation*
  • Raynaud Disease / diagnosis
  • Skin Temperature
  • Thermography / instrumentation
  • Thermography / methods*
  • Thermography / standards