Frequently Asked Questions
What is Thermography or Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging (DITI)?
Thermography is used to describe a thermal image taken of the body by a special highly sensitive infrared camera. It is a test of physiology, rather than more commonly used tests of anatomy like x-ray and MRI’s. Thermal imaging looks for thermal asymmetry or differences in temperature patterns comparing the patient’s right and left sides. Thermography also looks at “thermatomes” or areas of expression on the skin, inflammation and vascular patterns.
Looking at a function, we can see patterns that may become a problem down the line. It is like looking at your blood sugar patterns before you are diagnosed as diabetic. With this information, our goal is to be a proactive health screening service, helping our patients maintain or return to good health.
Do I need to develop a Breast Baseline or Thermal Fingerprint?
Our standard of care includes developing a proper breast or physiological baseline in order to properly diagnose various health conditions. Also, this helps to determine whether or not treatment protocols are working.
Each woman has a unique breast thermal pattern. It’s like your fingerprint. Without comparison in approximately three months, it is difficult to know if the patterns are stable.
Something that may be questionable for one woman may be normal for another but is it a developing pathology or an improvement? Only by rescanning and looking for trends and physical changes over time can we establish what is normal for you.
Once a stable baseline is established in the first year of breast thermography, we recommended an annual screening. This is done in one appointment yearly, as long as stability or the baseline persists.
Do I need to put my hands in cold water or sit in a freezing cold room before my scan?
Cold stressing is an old technique that is no longer necessary with modern technology. It also created too many “false positives” and lead to unnecessary testing and worry.
All the major thermography organizations agree that cold stressing is not advisable.
We have performed cold stressing in our office for medical issues involving RSD, but this is a very specialized test and requires a prescription from the treating Doctor.
Below is a position paper on cold stressing by thermography world leader Dr. Peter Leando;
What is Cold Stressing & Why We Don’t Do It Anymore—Based on a Position Paper & Discussion by Dr. Peter Leando published August 2003 ACCT Thermology Times.
Cold stress testing of breasts was implemented due to the thought that thermography could identify angiogenesis. This now identified angiogenesis was then assumed to be in direct correlation with the development and existence of breast cancer. However, after further research, medical professionals found this method to be insufficient and unreliable. There is still much that we don’t know about angiogenesis and so cannot rely on it as a means for diagnosis.
Cold testing was at one point considered a supplemental means for thermographers to achieve a conclusive diagnosis. However, after further research, it was found that in many cases it was best to forgo this screening method. Though used very little, understanding the considerations, logic, and philosophy of cold testing is important.
Ongoing tests are not justified if there are no suspicious thermal patterns to test.
Due to the fact that suspicious patterns remain so, even after a thermogram, the results of cold testing do not affect those obtained from thermography.
The results of a cold test are not immediately conclusive and so cannot build a diagnosis.
It is a disservice to subject patients to multiple tests due to a positive thermography test; producing diagnostic results from a single study is not acceptable.
Though cold stress testing should be utilized in diagnostic testing for CRPS/RSD, it is not a reliable means of breast screening. However, if it is incorporated in a comparative analysis of thermal testing by a licensed physician, then it can carry merit. Because in the past it was used as a means for breast screening and found to wanting in reliability, Thermologists have received criticism for their methods. However, this criticism holds no weight in regard to thermography itself.
Peter Leando goes on to say in his paper, “in the mid-eighties many people, including myself, got excited by the potential offered by breast thermography performed with cold stressing. . . My own observations regarding the low rates of correlation between the results of cold stress tests and case histories and the growing evidence of false positives and false negatives led me to abandon cold stressing of breasts in the early nineties. I learned a more logical and more efficient approach which still relied on the detection of changes in the breast over time but was far more objective and reliable.”
Who can benefit from a Thermal Imaging Scan?
Unlike mammograms where x-rays are used, thermal imaging is safe for everyone. The infrared camera is basically just taking a picture of the heat radiating off the body. Thermal imaging cameras are not radiating devices.
Breast thermography or full body thermography may be of particular interest to:
- Young women with a significant family history of breast disease.
- Women who want to monitor their health and are not candidates for breast x-ray or mammography.
- Women with dense breast tissue who are advised to do additional testing benefit from breast thermography.
- Women with implants interested in using a tool that does not require compression.
- People who have had increased radiation exposure and choose to limit future exposure.
- Men and women with unexplained pain may look to thermal imaging to find the source of their symptoms.
- Anyone who is looking for a nontoxic proactive health screening.
Is it painful to have thermography?
No. There is no pain or compression with thermography. It is a picture and there is no contact with the patient’s body.
Is there any radiation in a thermal scan?
No. Thermography uses an infrared camera that only picks up the heat coming from the body.
Is a thermogram the same as a mammogram or ultrasound?
No. Mammograms and ultrasounds are diagnostic tests that look at anatomy or structure.
Thermography is a screening tool best used to monitor health status or help monitor current treatment protocols. Many patients have heard that a thermogram is better than a mammogram. Or they have been told that it is not as good. Neither is correct, as they are completely different tests. Apples to Oranges. Different tests, different information.
What happens during the thermography appointment?
The patient will be given the necessary paperwork to fill out. This mainly consists of their personal health and family history. The forms can be emailed and filled out at home. For their session, they are given a gown to put on and can relax while acclimating to a cool but comfortable room temperature.
The Doctor or Technician will review their paperwork and take a more complete history if necessary.
The patient will then sit or stand in front of the camera and a series of images are taken. Because we are monitoring skin temperature, the gown is removed. All considerations for modesty are observed.
After the patient leaves, the images and history are submitted to the Certified Medical Doctor Thermologists for interpretation. The patient then receives a password protected emailed copy of their interpretation report and images. In our office, all new patients are called to review the language of the report. We are always happy to answer any questions our patients have about the findings.
How do I prepare for my thermography appointment?
It is best to fill out your patient forms prior to your appointment, if possible. Please contact our office (818-769-4045) for information on the specific forms you need to fill out. You can also fill out the forms in our office, as needed.
Do inform our office if you are now pregnant or have been in the last three months, are lactating, or have had surgery or biopsies in the last three months. Thermography may not be appropriate for you at this time.
- Do not apply powder, lotion, or deodorant on the area to be scanned.
- Do not smoke for a minimum of 2 hours before the test.
- Do not consume excessively hot or cold drinks before your test.
- Avoid nutritional supplements with large quantities of niacin on your scan day.
- Do not exercise vigorously 2 prior to your thermography scan.
- Do not receive a massage, chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, or physical therapy on the day of your appointment. If you are having a full body scan, please refrain for at least two days. Call us with your specific questions.
- Avoid tanning booths and strong sunlight prior to your appointment. Do not come with a sunburn on the area to be scanned.
- Wear long hair up. Hair accessories can be provided.
- Avoid tight clothing.
- Medications? Take your regular medications. If you are having a body scan to determine pain patterns, it is advisable to refrain from OTC anti-inflammatories before your exam, if possible.
- Niacin in vitamins may create a “flush” and we advise against taking niacin on the day of your scan.
Who is qualified to perform my thermography scan?
Only someone who has been certified as a Clinical Thermographer by an established organization is qualified to take the images.
Only a Licensed Healthcare Practitioner with the licensure to diagnosis and treat can review your report with you.
All of the CCT’s at Advanced Medical Thermography have advanced training and years of experience.
Who will interpret my scans and write a report?
Reports should be interpreted by Certified Thermologists who have the proper licensure to read reports and make follow up suggestions based on the findings.
Your report at Advanced Medical Thermography offices will be interpreted by a Medical Doctor who has extensive training and is certified as an MD Certified Thermologist. The Doctors have programs in place for quality assurance and second opinions as needed.
Questions regarding your report will be addressed by Dr. Hillary Smith, D.C., CCT Level 3.
Does insurance pay for thermal imaging?
Whether your whole body, regional, or breast thermography is covered by your insurance depends on your insurance company and your policy. Most insurance companies consider a thermography scan an out of pocket expense. However, most health savings plans have accepted thermography charges.
We receive payment at the time of your service and will provide you a medical receipt to give to your insurance company for any possible reimbursement.
We do accept all credit and debit cards, square or PayPal invoicing, and checks for your convenience.
Are all thermography offices the same and regulated by the government?
No. It is important to choose a qualified office.
*Our offices use the medical infrared camera Meditherm 2000, registered with the FDA and CE (Europe), designed only for medical use, and giving it the greatest sensitivity.
*Our office uses Certified Medical Thermologists(MD’s) to interpret the reports with sophisticated software, quality assurance, and are HIPPA compliant. All images are saved on the main server for at least seven years, and if you move or travel, we can refer you to another independent office that will have your images interpreted compared to your existing images. No need to start again with your baseline.
*Our office provides report reviews by our Licensed Healthcare Practitioner, Dr. Hillary Smith D.C., CCT111
*Written reports and reviews are included in the price of the thermography scans.
*Our main office is designed for optimum thermal imaging requirements, and all of our satellite offices offer proper light and temperature control.
*We have been the premier dedicated thermography center in the Los Angeles area since 2006 and our founder has been in continuous practice since 1985.