Article Abstract

Clinical applications of dynamic infrared thermography in plastic surgery: a systematic review

Authors: Hannah Eliza John, Vachara Niumsawatt, Warren Matthew Rozen, Iain S. Whitaker

Abstract

Background: Infrared thermography (IRT) has become an increasingly utilized adjunct to more expensive and/or invasive investigations in a range of surgical fields, no more so than in plastic surgery. The combination of functional assessment, flow characteristics and anatomical localization has led to increasing applications of this technology. This article aims to perform a systematic review of the clinical applications of IRT in plastic surgery.
Methods: A systematic literature search using the keywords ‘IRT’ and ‘dynamic infrared thermography (DIRT)’ has been accomplished. A total of 147 papers were extracted from various medical databases, of which 34 articles were subjected to a full read by two independent reviewers, to ensure the papers satisfied the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Studies focusing on the use of IRT in breast cancer diagnosis were excluded.
Results: A systematic review of 29 publications demonstrated the clinical applications of IRT in plastic surgery today. They include preoperative planning of perforators for free flaps, post operative monitoring of free flaps, use of IRT as an adjunct in burns depth analysis, in assessment of response to treatment in hemangioma and as a diagnostic test for cutaneous melanoma and carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).
Conclusions: Modern infrared imaging technology with improved standardization protocols is now a credible, useful non-invasive tool in clinical practice.