Thermographic imaging is a known technology to detect temperature differences. For medical applications, the patterns of heat distribution are used for diagnosis. It is already tested to visualize blood supply, inflammatory processes, and superficial or more extensive tumors, e.g. in the breast tissue. This method was promoted for breast screening purposes and as a substitute for mammography for mid aged women, but the results were not convincing for younger women, where tissue density is higher, tumor growth is often connected to local temperature increase and radiation-based mammography is not an option. Infrared (IR) thermography can support tumor screening. The screening should allow the early detection of small lesions even in the depth. Therefor we evaluated the feasibility of dynamic cooling in combination with IR imaging in a phantom study. A temperature-controllable gel phantom including a heating plate, a depth-adjustable heat source mimicking a tumor, and three sensors for temperature monitoring was built up. A raspberry pi device serves as a control unit to create a stable temperature balance comparable to a human breast. For the experiments, the tumor was placed in various depth. After cooling, the thermal recovery phase of the phantom was imaged using an IR camera and a webcam. A pixel-wise analysis of the IR data detects a higher gradient of temperature change in the tumor region. The experiments demonstrated the feasibility of tumor detection based on dynamic cooling and IR imaging.
© 2019 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston
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