Is Digital Infrared Imaging (breast thermography) safe?
The procedure is completely safe.
Is Digital Infrared Imaging costly?
No, DII of the breast is very reasonable considering the sophistication of the technology involved. However, costs do vary depending upon the location of the imaging lab and if special studies need to be performed. Our center’s fee for a DII breast scan is $200.00, which includes imaging, and digital copies of your report and images. Your report and images will be mailed to you within two weeks. If you are concerned and wish to have your results quickly, you may arrange this with our office for an additional fee.
Will my insurance cover the test?
This all depends on your individual insurance coverage. Some companies cover the procedure while others do not. Our policy is to receive payment at the time of service. Thermography is not covered by medicare.
Does Digital Infrared Imaging replace mammograms?
Absolutely not! However, do mammograms replace DII? The answer to this is also a resounding “no”; the two tests complement each other. DII is to be used in addition to mammography as part of a woman's regular breast health care. The consensus among health care experts is that no one procedure or method of imaging is solely adequate for breast cancer screening. The false negative and positive rates for currently used examination tests (including DII) are too high for the procedures to be used alone. However, DII may pick up thermal markers that may indicate the risk of cancers undetected by other tests. A positive infrared image is also the single most important marker of high risk for developing breast cancer. It is DII’s unique ability to monitor the abnormal temperature (physiological) changes produced by pathological breast tissue that allows for early detection. Since it has been determined that 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer, we should use every means possible to detect these tumors when there is the greatest chance for survival. Adding these tests together increases the chance for early detection.
Is Digital Infrared Imaging an approved procedure?
Yes, in 1982 DII was approved by the FDA as a breast imaging procedure to be used in addition to other imaging tests and/or examination procedures.
I have seen news releases that are very negative about thermography.
We have also seen these same news releases. If you look closely you will find a common thread among all of these negative reviews; the procedure is being done incorrectly. When personnel are properly trained, and guidelines are strictly followed, breast thermography can be a lifesaving technology. And, like many other procedures in healthcare, what is the expected outcome if things are done incorrectly?
Who is qualified to take and interpret Digital Infrared Images?
Interpretation of thermographic images should only be made by health care providers who are clinically trained to diagnose (MD, DC, DO) and hold credentials as Board Certified Clinical Thermographers from a recognized organization. Offices wishing to offer DII, with the images sent for outside interpretation, as we do, should have staff certified as a Clinical Thermographic Technician by one of the same organizations.
I've been told that a cold-challenge must be done, is this true?
The use of the cold-challenge (placing the patient's hands in ice-water or using ice packs placed on the mid-back) was stopped in the late 1980's. The research at the time showed that using the cold-challenge did not increase the sensitivity or specificity of breast thermography. What we are finding is that some offices have websites informing women that they should never go to any office that is not doing the cold-challenge. We have no idea why they are doing this as this is simply false information. Fortunately, the number of offices doing this is decreasing. However, back in the late 1990's and early 2000's the problem was so bad that Dr. William Hobbins (the leading expert in breast thermography) encouraged our clinic director to review his database of cold-challenges and present a paper at the yearly symposium of the American Academy of Thermology (AAT). Dr. Hobbins and other experts in this field were concerned that these offices were claiming that experts in this field were not performing breast thermography correctly. The paper went on to be presented at the international conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. The end result was acceptance of the paper for peer-review and publication (click here or go to Medline/PubMed). Both the IACT and the AAT convened guidelines committees that included our interpreting thermologist, Dr. William Amalu, along with Dr. William Hobbins and a group of experts in this field, to review the current status of breast thermography and create internationally peer-reviewed standards and guidelines documents. With regard to the cold-challenge, a review of the literature along with a consensus among the experts determined that the cold-challenge did not improve the sensitivity or specificity of breast thermography; and as such, its use was not necessary to provide accurate medical infrared imaging of the breast.
What other centers perform Digital Infrared Imaging?
Because of the special training, technical expertise, and unique clinical environmental needs necessary to perform DII, many centers do not have this technology as of yet. Currently, independent digital infrared imaging centers and highly specialized independent breast clinics are the most common place to find this technology.
Can you provide my organization with a speaker?
Yes, we certainly can. Simply contact us with a description of your organization (university, women's group, service club, etc.), and its location, and we would be glad to reply. Since we are frequently asked to speak on this important issue, please give us ample notice before the lecture in order for us to provide a speaker for you.
How can I find a Digital Infrared Imaging lab in my area?
You will find an up-to-date list of international qualified breast thermography centers at this link (Qualified Centers).
What conditions have the potential of having thermal markers visible with Digital Infrared Imaging?
The following list is just some of the conditions that have associated infrared thermal emission markers:
Altered gait manifestations
Brachial Plexus Injury
Carotid Artery Stenosis
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
Diabetes (secondary complications)
Disc Syndromes (spinal discogenic pain)
Headache Evaluation (e.g. cervicogenic, migraine, sinus)
Herniated Disc/Ruptured Disc
Intervertebral Disc Disease
Lumbosacral Plexus Injury
Myofascial Pain Syndrome
Nerve Root Irritation
Nerve Stretch Injury
Peripheral Nerve Abnormalities
Referred Pain Syndromes
Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)
Repetitive Strain Injuries
Sacroiliac Ligament Tear
Sensory Nerve Abnormalities
Soft Tissue Injury
Spinal Cord Injury
Superficial Vascular Disease
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
TMJ Dysfunction (TMD)
And many more …
Sources: Index Medicus - J Thermology, Acta Thermographica, J Breast