The sick preterm infant monitoring is an intriguing job that medical staff in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) must deal with on a daily basis. As a standards monitoring procedure, preterm infants are monitored via sensors and electrodes that are firmly attached to their fragile and delicate skin and connected to processing monitors. However, an alternative exists in contactless imaging to record such physiological signals (we call it as Physio-Markers), detecting superficial changes and internal structures activities which can be used independently of, or aligned with, conventional monitors. Countless advantages can be gained from unobtrusive monitoring not limited to: (1) quick data generation; (2) decreasing physical and direct contact with skin, which reduces skin breakdown and minimizes risk of infection; and (3) reduction of electrodes and probes connected to clinical monitors and attached to the skin, which allows greater body surface-area for better care. This review is an attempt to build a solid ground for and to provide a clear perspective of the potential clinical applications of technologies inside NICUs that use contactless imaging modalities such as Visible Light Imaging (VLI), Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS), and Infrared Thermography (IRT).
Keywords: near-infrared; neonatal imaging; optical coherence tomography; physio-features, infrared thermography; preterm infants, NICU; short-wave infrared; tissue optics; visible light.