History of Thermograpy

Age of Hippocrates

The very first record about Thermology was discovered to be done by Hippocrates in around 400BC. He referred to it as medical science and wrote: “In whatever part of the body excess of heat and cold is felt, the disease is there to be discovered.” In Golden Age, Thermology was in its primitive form. The physicians would simply apply thin mud layer onto their patient’s body. As it dried, they could see patterns of hot and cold (“hot” dried faster and “cold” dried slower).


Infrared Breakthrough

Much later science progresses and come to the next discovery by William Hershel. It was a major breakthrough in the field of color and temperature relationship. This scientist experimented with prisms to separate various colors of visible light, and noticed that there was a change in temperature in each color of the rainbow. He was able to measure this temperature differences. He named it infrared “below red”. The dictionary defines infrared as “the part of the invisible spectrum that is contiguous to the red end of the visible spectrum and that comprises electromagnetic radiation of wavelengths from 800 nm to 1 mm.”

Human body emits varying levels of energy in infrared wavelength due to workings of metabolism. This energy can be measured as heat.


The advancement of imaging technology

The field of infrared energy has been studied and researched throughout the years after the discovery by Hershell. Albert Einstein contributed to the understanding of the fundamentals of infrared energy as well as many others. Still only in the late 1950’s thermology was recognized as medical imaging. The U.S. military defense used and introduced a new way for capturing infrared (temperature) information through the electronic infrared imaging cameras. This modern technology replaced the previous primitive contact thermometers and liquid crystal thermometry.

This new model of imaging devices allowed physicians to scan large arrays of quantitative temperature information. In the next 10-20 years after this new technological breakthrough, the basic clinical principals of thermology have been introduced and defined. More clinical data has been collected through several major clinical trials.


Thermography today

FDA has recognized and cleared medical thermography in 1982 as an additional tool for medical screening to be used in conjunction with other diagnostic tests. Today, the science of thermography uses standardized protocols in Neurology, Vascular Medicine, Physical Therapy, Breast Oncology and many others.