Infrared thermal imaging for automated detection of diabetic foot complications

van Netten, Jaap J., van Baal, Jeff G., Liu, Chanjuan, van Der Heijden, Ferdi, & Bus, Sicco A. (2013) Infrared thermal imaging for automated detection of diabetic foot complications. Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, 7(5), pp. 1122-1129.

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Although thermal imaging can be a valuable technology in the prevention and management of diabetic foot disease, it is not yet widely used in clinical practice. Technological advancement in infrared imaging increases its application range. The aim was to explore the first steps in the applicability of high-resolution infrared thermal imaging for noninvasive automated detection of signs of diabetic foot disease.


The plantar foot surfaces of 15 diabetes patients were imaged with an infrared camera (resolution, 1.2 mm/pixel): 5 patients had no visible signs of foot complications, 5 patients had local complications (e.g., abundant callus or neuropathic ulcer), and 5 patients had difuse complications (e.g., Charcot foot, infected ulcer, or critical ischemia). Foot temperature was calculated as mean temperature across pixels for the whole foot and for specified regions of interest (ROIs).


No diferences in mean temperature >1.5 °C between the ipsilateral and the contralateral foot were found in patients without complications. In patients with local complications, mean temperatures of the ipsilateral and the contralateral foot were similar, but temperature at the ROI was >2 °C higher compared with the corresponding region in the contralateral foot and to the mean of the whole ipsilateral foot. In patients with difuse complications, mean temperature diferences of >3 °C between ipsilateral and contralateral foot were found.


With an algorithm based on parameters that can be captured and analyzed with a high-resolution infrared camera and a computer, it is possible to detect signs of diabetic foot disease and to discriminate between no, local, or difuse diabetic foot complications. As such, an intelligent telemedicine monitoring system for noninvasive automated detection of signs of diabetic foot disease is one step closer. Future studies are essential to confirm and extend these promising early findings.

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ID Code: 93247
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Automatic detection, Diabetic foot, Infrared imaging, Prevention, Telemedicine, Thermography
DOI: 10.1177/193229681300700504
ISSN: 1932-2968
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Clinical Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 Diabetes Technology Society
Deposited On: 02 Mar 2016 00:45
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2016 02:49

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