Thermography is a quantitative assessment of the temperatures, in this case the body heat emitted by the horse. The infrared camera measures the temperatures and provides a thermal image where the different temperatures are displayed with different colors based on a specific scale. A warm spot indicates inflammation or increased blood flow. Warm spots are usually visible in the skin directly over an injury. Cold spots indicate reduced blood flow and are usually the result of swelling, compression, thrombosis or scarring.
Thermography (or thermal imaging) is also seen as a physiological imaging technique because changes in an animal's metabolism, for example heating a painful tendon, are visible. By measuring temperature differences, early signs of inflammation in joints, tendons and tissues of animals can be detected.
In order to be able to do a correct and precise thermographic analysis specific preparations is required as well as following a standardized protocol. Furthermore, the necessary experience and specific training are required to prevent so-called artefacts from occurring in the measurements (bandage marks, ointments,surrounding elements such as wind, sun, wet patches, etc) and to avoid false positive (warm zone) or false negative (cold zone) results.
Thermography is an extremely valuable tool in detecting muscle injuries and muscle atrophy before they are visible to the naked eye.
Thermography can be used to determine if there is inflammation in an area that is sensitive to touch, or to find an area of increased blood flow when there is no specific pain or other symptoms.
Nerve damage from direct trauma or secondary to another injury or condition can impair blood flow and can be visualized by thermography.
Other applications are purchase assessments, saddle fit, a training tool to prevent injuries, control of the healing process after an injury and during the rehabilitation process, etc.
A full assessment takes about 45 minutes but does require some preparations and planning by the owner/riders before we arrive to take the images/measurements. You can find an exact list of what should and shouldn't be done prior to a thermographic assessment here. We can also provide partial assessments for example when the injury or concerned site is already know but you would like to follow- up the progression of healing through thermal imaging. All are assessments will include a report with the most relevant images and findings included. A full set of images is available upon request and we are happy to share our images or reports with your veterinarian, fysio, bodyworker, farrier, etc.
If you would like to know more about thermography or would like to book an appointment for an assessment please contact us.