Role of digital infrared thermal imaging in diagnosis of acute appendicitis

Ulus Travma Acil Cerrahi Derg. 2021 Nov;27(6):647-653. doi: 10.14744/tjtes.2020.80843.


Background: Acute appendicitis (AA) is one of the most common diseases requiring emergency surgery. Today, diagnosis of AA is made through anamnesis, physical examination along with advanced imaging methods. Thermal imaging confers advantages over conventional techniques for being portable, non-invasive, easily conducted, ionization radiation-free, and inexpensive. Digital infrared thermal imaging (DITI) has been the subject of research in various clinical scenarios. In this prospective randomized controlled study, diagnostic potential of DITI in AA was investigated.

Methods: Totally, 224 volunteers (112 healthy volunteers and 112 patient volunteers) were enrolled and divided into two groups; control group and patient group. All subjects were assessed by DITI. Steady-state images of both lower quadrants and sternum were taken. Thermal images were transferred to computer software and analyzed. Potential of thermal imaging as a diagnostic method was evaluated.

Results: Regarding temperature differences between the quadrants, statistical analysis delivered significant difference between the both groups (p<0.001). As a result of the analysis, the cutoff value for the diagnosis of AA was found to be 0.4°C difference between the average lower quadrant temperatures.

Conclusion: This study has enlarged the application of DITI to abdominal pain, especially within context of AA. Thermal evaluation of patients with abdominal pain seems promising.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Appendicitis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Body Temperature
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies