Thermography or thermology is the medical science that derives diagnostic indications from highly detailed and sensitive infrared images of the human body. Thermology is sometimes referred to as medical infrared imaging or tele-thermology and utilizes highly resolute and sensitive thermographic cameras. Thermology is completely non-contact and involves no form of energy imparted onto or into the body.
Thermology has some recognized applications in breast oncology, chiropractic, dentistry, neurology, orthopedics, occupational medicine, pain management, vascular medicine/cardiology and veterinary medicine.
In alternative medicine
Thermography has been promoted by complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) clinics particularly as a breast imaging technique for cancer screening. This is not scientifically validated. The American Cancer Society says:
Thermography has been around for many years, and some scientists are still trying to improve the technology to use it in breast imaging. But no study has yet shown that it is an effective screening tool for finding breast cancer early. It should not be used as a substitute for mammograms.
— American Cancer Society (emphasis added)
Initial studies (1977) found it to be less useful than either mammography or clinical examination, and skeptics have noted that sites promoting breast thermography carry the "quack Miranda warning" that claims have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Health Canada have issued "cease and desist" orders to clinics offering breast thermography as a claimed cancer diagonstic. Scott Gavura of the Science Based Pharmacy blog describes breast thermography as "worse than useless" based on currently available evidence.
- Thermography, Mammography, and Clinical Examination in Breast Cancer, Radiology vol 122 January 1977, 123-127 doi:10.1148/122.1.123
- Oprah’s buddy Dr. Christiane Northrup and breast thermography: The opportunistic promotion of quackery, David Gorski, 11 Oct 2010. Science Based Medicine
- Clinics ordered to stop 'useless' breast cancer tests, CBC News, Nov 27 2012
- Thermography: Worse than useless, Scott Gavura, Science Based Pharmacy, 28 Nov 2012
- FDA Safety Communication: Breast Cancer Screening - Thermography is Not an Alternative to Mammography, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration June 2, 2011
- Tsouderos, Trine (25 April 2012). "FDA warns doctor: Stop touting camera as disease screening tool". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 8 January 2013.