Biomedical Applications of Functional Infrared Imaging
Infrared imaging allows the representation of the surface thermal distribution of the human body. Several studies have been performed so far to assess the contribution that such information may provide to the clinicians. The skin temperature distribution of the human body depends on the complex relationships defining the heat exchange processes between skin tissue, inner tissue, local vasculature, and metabolic activity. All of these processes are mediated and regulated by the sympathetic and parasympathetic activity to maintain the thermal homeostasis. The presence of a disease can locally affect the heat balance or exchange processes, resulting in an increase or a decrease of the skin temperature. Such a temperature change can be better estimated with respect to the surrounding regions or the unaffected contra lateral region. But then, the dynamics of the local control of the skin temperature should also be influenced by the presence of the disease. Therefore, the characteristic parameters modeling the activity of the skin thermoregulatory system can be used as diagnostic parameters. The functional infrared (fIR) imagingalso named infrared functional imaging (IFRI imaging)—is the study for diagnostic purposes, based on the modeling of the bio-heat exchange processes, of the functional properties and alterations of the human thermoregulatory system. In this chapter, we will review some of the most important recent clinical applications of the fIR imaging of our group.