If you are new to thermography, the reports may sometimes be confusing. That’s because there’s a lot that goes into the interpretation of thermal images that cannot be appreciated by simply looking at the images included in the report. For example, we call the color scheme used for an image a “palette.” Six different palettes are used when doing the interpretation. One is black and white, which reveals all the vascular patterns that you can’t see in the other palettes. There are also palettes that enhance on the cool areas, others that enhance on the warm patterns etc.
The reports include images in just one palette. This particular palette is used for the report because it makes the most sense to the lay public with warmer temperatures being red and the cooler temperatures appearing blue. However, it does not show all the details that can be observed using other palettes, which is why the report may describe findings that do not appear on the images in the report.
In addition, interpretations require temperature measurements and comparisons between the two sides to determine if a pattern is significant or not. It is nearly impossible to determine the significance of patterns based only on the appearance.
Other factors that affect how the images appear in the report include how “hot or cold” the thermographer saved the images. If the images are saved too cold (lots of blue), significant patterns may not be visible. Whereas, if the patterns are saved too hot (lots of orange/red), there may appear to be significant patterns when they are actually not. When doing the interpretation, I am able to adjust the overall temperature of the images so that I can accurately assess the patterns and be able to do a comparison to a previous scan.
If you have any confusion or questions about a thermography report on one of your patients, please don’t hesitate to contact me. My goal is to help you best use the information from the thermographic scans for your patients. Many practitioners have found that a phone conversation with me, especially if you are new to incorporating thermography into your practice can be extremely helpful.