Infrared Thermography for Burn Depth Assessment: A Review and Pilot Study of An Emerging Technology

Dr Morgan Haines1, Dr  Jeon Cha1

1Department of Burns, Maxillofacial, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards, Australia


Accurate assessment of burn depth is critical in determining the requirement for debridement and subsequent skin grafting. Presently, clinical assessment by an experienced clinician is the gold standard. In assessing dermal burns, the discrimination between deep, mid, and superficial thickness injuries and subsequent need for intervention can be subjective. In the evidence-based era, objective and measurable parameters should be used where possible. Thermography is a technology which measures temperature by infrared radiation and reflects perfusion of the tissue as it is warmed by flowing blood. The thermographic camera works by detecting infrared light and displays the digitalised image – a thermogram. Thermography has the advantages of being non-contact/non-invasive, portable, free of side-effects and quick. The disadvantage of thermography in burns is it is influenced by evaporative cooling and may overestimate the depth of the burn. A literature review identified several studies assessing the validity and feasibility of thermography, finding it a novel technology with the potential to assist early identification of deeper burns. To further investigate the clinical utility of device, our unit has recently trialled thermographic assessment of partial thickness burns presenting to the outpatient clinic. Here we report a review of literature and preliminary images and data from our pilot study.


Unaccredited Plastic Surgery Registrar at Royal North Shore Hospital

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