Is Breast Thermal Imaging safe?
The procedure is completely safe, it is no different than having your photograph taken. No compression, no radiation and non-invasive.
Will my insurance cover the test?
Usually not but this all depends on your individual insurance coverage. Our policy is to receive payment at the time of service. Thermography is not covered by medicare.
Is Thermal Imaging an approved procedure?
Yes, in 1982 Thermal Imaging was approved by the FDA as a breast imaging procedure to be used in addition to other imaging tests and/or examination procedures.
Can Thermography confirm cancer?
The consensus among health care experts is that no one procedure or method of imaging is solely adequate for breast cancer screening, including mammogram, ultrasound or MRI. The false negative and positive rates for currently used examination tests are too high for any one diagnostic test to confirm cancer. However, Thermal Imaging may pick up markers that indicate the risk of cancers missed by other tests. A positive infrared image is also the single most important marker of high risk for developing breast cancer. It is thermal imaging's unique ability to monitor the abnormal temperature (physiological) changes produced by pathological breast tissue that allows for extremely early detection. Since it has been determined that 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer, we should use every means possible to detect these tumors when there is the greatest chance for survival. Adding these tests together increases the chance for early detection.
Who is qualified to take and interpret Thermal Images?
Interpretation of thermographic images should only be made by health care providers who are clinically trained to diagnose (MD, DC, DO) and hold credentials as Board Certified Clinical Thermographers from a recognized organization. Images should be taken by a Certified Thermographic Technician and images should then be sent to a Board Certified Thermologist for interpretation. Thermal Imaging must be conducted under specific conditions that only a certified technician is qualified to establish.
What about follow up screenings?
The greatest advantage Thermal Imaging offers you is establishing a baseline of your physiology and breast health. After your initial screening a follow up appointment, depending on results from your scan, will be scheduled from 3 months to 1 year later (as determined by our Thermologist) to monitor changes in your breast tissues. Then, annual screenings for observation of any changes in your physiology will allow for routine monitoring of your breast health.
Is Thermal Imaging costly?
No, Thermal Imaging of the breast is very reasonable considering the sophistication of the technology involved. Our center’s fee for a breast scan is $265, which includes imaging, full interpretation of your images by a Board Certified Thermologist, a comprehensive written report, and a digital copy of your images. Your report will be mailed to you within two to three weeks. If you are concerned and wish to have your results quickly, you may arrange this with our office for an additional fee. Follow up screenings are offered at a reduced price.
I've been told that a cold-challenge must be done, is this true?
The use of the cold-challenge (placing the patient's hands in ice-water or using ice packs placed on the mid-back) was stopped in the late 1980's. The research at the time showed that using the cold-challenge did not increase the sensitivity or specificity of breast thermography. What we are finding is that some offices have websites telling women that they should never go to any office that is not doing the cold-challenge. We have no idea why they are doing this as this is simply false information. Fortunately, the number of offices doing this is decreasing. However, back in the late 1990's and early 2000's the problem was so bad that Dr. William Hobbins (the leading expert in breast thermography) encouraged our clinic director to review his database of cold-challenges and present a paper at the yearly symposium of the American Academy of Thermology (AAT). Dr. Hobbins and other experts in this field were concerned that these offices were claiming that experts in this field were not performing breast thermography correctly. The paper went on to be presented at the international conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. The end result was acceptance of the paper for peer-review and publication (click here or go to Medline/PubMed). As recent as 2013, the AAT formed a committee that included our clinic director, along with Dr. William Hobbins and a group of experts in this field, to review the current status of breast thermography and create a internationally peer-reviewed standards and guidelines document. With regard to the cold-challenge, a review of the literature along with a consensus among the experts determined that the cold-challenge did not improve the sensitivity or specificity of breast thermography; and as such, its use was not necessary to provide accurate medical infrared imaging of the breast.
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