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June 25, 1982

Thermography finds multitude of applications

JAMA. 1982;247(24):3296-3302. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320490004002

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These days, measurements of body heat can be used to diagnose and monitor therapy for everything from "tennis elbow" to scrotal varicocele.

At the recent Third International Congress of Thermology in Bath, England, most of the presentations concerned the usual technique, infrared thermography, in which infrared scanners are used to detect heat differences on the body surface that may indicate underlying pathology. The "hot" or "cold" spots are then converted electronically to blackand-white or colored images that can be viewed on film or a video screen. Other thermographic techniques are also being used, however.

Since at least four states (Illinois, New York, California, and Wisconsin) now accept thermographic evidence as objective proof or disproof of pain in workers' compensation or personal injury cases, this application of thermography figured prominently in discussions at the congress. "I've done about 6,000 thermograms over the last several years to evaluate sensory nerve damage or