Frequently Asked Questions
Digital infrared thermal imaging, or DITI, is a totally non-invasive, radiation-free, painless procedure with no contact with the body. DITI is a clinical imaging procedure that records the patterns of infrared heat naturally emitted from your body. Your thermal images can be used by your healthcare practitioner to help assess pathology in the body as well as monitor pain. Thermography is a test of vascular physiology, meaning that it looks for abnormal blood flow, inflammation and functional changes in the tissue which can often be the indicator of early-stage disease.
Thermal imaging is a 15 minute, non-invasive test of vascular physiology. Thermal imaging uses a highly sensitive, high-resolution digital thermal camera to take a picture of your body’s infrared heat and display these patterns in the form of a digital image. The cells of your body produce heat through their normal function. Abnormal cells typically produce more heat in the early stages of development (before a tumor forms).
Before most tumors grow, abnormal cells will:
- stimulate new blood vessels to grow
- re-open unused blood vessels
- maintain those blood vessels already in use
The cells build a vast network of blood vessels in the area it will ultimately grow. A tumor needs more blood flow than normal cells to support its rapid growth. With more blood flow, there is more heat. Thermal imaging examines these “hot spots” which can be the early warning signs of developing pathology. This activity has been shown to begin years before a tumor forms, and before any warning signs can be given by other screening methods.
The camera used by DITI imaging is the only FDA registered thermal imaging medical camera on the market specifically designed for medical screenings. It is a totally non-invasive procedure that is completely safe. There is absolutely NO contact with the body, NO compression, and NO radiation. While a variety of studies have called into question the safety of cumulative exposures to radiation, this is not the case with thermography. Thermography emits nothing. It is simply a picture of your unique thermal heat patterns. It is a quick and painless procedure, which makes it a great screening option for breast screening with “no harm done” in the process.
Our images are sent to Electronic Medical Interpretation, Inc. EMI is a professional group of physicians who are trained in the protocols of reading thermal images. A formal interpretation and written report, including color images, is prepared and sent to you in approximately two weeks. If quicker results are desired, rush service is available for a fee. We are happy to send a copy of your report to your doctor upon request.
Thermography has a sensitivity and specificity rate of approximately 90%. As with any test, results are often only as good as the technician performing them. Don’t hesitate to ask how much experience your technician has with the equipment and the performance of the procedure. A positive thermogram can be the single most important marker of high risk for developing pathology.
Unfortunately, many doctors either don’t know about this technology or have out of date information as to its efficacy and benefits. If your doctor would like to receive a copy of the most current research data regarding thermography, please have them contact our office at 210-705-1232.
No. Payment for your scan is expected at the time of your screening.
We accept cash, checks, MasterCard, Visa, Discover, American Express, and HSA and/or medical spending accounts. We also offer a payment option for existing clients. Please call our office at 210-705-1232 for more specific details.
If you are unable to keep your appointment, we ask that you show consideration by calling our office at 210-705-1232, one business day in advance of your scheduled appointment. Due to the distances we travel to our out of town clinics to provide you with this service, as well as staffing requirements and other preplanned needs, we would like to have the option to offer your appointment to others who may not have been able to schedule an appointment due to lack of availability. If you fail to give us one business day notice, a $50 cancellation charge will be billed to your account.
Breast thermography is a great option for all women but particularly women that fall into certain categories. Women with dense breast tissue, fibrocystic breasts, as well as women with implants or women that have had mastectomies without reconstructive surgery are more difficult to screen for breast cancer using other screening technologies. However, that is not the case with thermography. Since the screening process is nothing more than taking pictures or images of the infrared heat emitted from the body, the size of the woman, size of the breasts or tissue type are no longer concerns for the sake of breast screening. This test can provide a clinical marker to the doctor or practitioner in the event that a specific area of the breast needs particularly close or frequent examination.
Every woman has a unique thermal heat pattern – it is as unique as their fingerprint. Because of this, it takes two sets of images to establish a baseline. The first set of images provides the first half of your baseline of your unique “thermal pattern”. Because thermal imaging looks for changes over time, it is essential that a second set of images be completed within 3-4 months after the first set of images.
This subsequent session assures that the thermal patterns remain unchanged. Once a stable baseline is established, it will be used for comparisons to all future scans so that the most subtle of tissue changes can be identified.
Thermography detects the subtle physiologic changes that accompany breast pathology, whether it is cancer, fibrocystic disease, an infection, or vascular disease. It can alert you and your doctor to changes that can indicate early stage breast disease. It is safe, effective, and ideal for women of all ages. It is completely non-invasive and does NOT use radiation. It is a “do no harm” approach to routine breast screening.
Mammography is a test of anatomy that uses x-ray to look for masses or lumps. These masses can take years to form – sometimes 5-10 years before they are large enough and dense enough to show up on an x-ray. Although touted to be harmless, mammograms do involve compression of the breast tissue, which may be uncomfortable for some women. A dose of radiation is administered with each view taken.
While thermography is a great basic screening method, it looks at the breast tissue differently than a mammogram does. For some, thermography is an adjunctive procedure and is used in conjunction with the annual mammogram and/or ultrasound. For others who may not be candidates for mammography or choose not to use mammography, thermography is a great option. Mammography can be a very useful follow up tool when warranted. When used in conjunction with thermography, the rate of early detection is increased to as much as 95%.
In the event that something suspicious should appear on your thermogram, your doctor or health care practitioner should be consulted immediately. After a thorough discussion of your options, you and your doctor or health care practitioner may decide that a mammogram or ultrasound is warranted for a different view of the area of concern.
No. In fact, all other screening methods (mammography, ultrasound, physical/self-exam) can only suggest the presence or absence of disease. The only way to diagnose breast cancer is through a biopsy and pathological study.
This quick and easy procedure starts with you undressing from the waist up and changing into a hospital gown to allow air to circulate which allows your body temperature to cool down. Cooling time is approximately 12 minutes. Once acclimated, you will be asked to sit in front of the camera, with your hands behind your head. Five different images will be taken. This allows the camera to scan the breasts, neck and underarms as well as the lymph nodes under the arms, breasts, and neck. These images are then sent for interpretation and archived for future comparison. The average visit is 30 minutes.