Is Digital Infrared Imaging (breast thermography) safe?
The procedure is completely safe.
Is Digital Infrared Imaging costly?
No, DII of the breast is very reasonable considering the sophistication of the technology involved. However, costs do vary depending upon the location of the imaging lab and if special studies need to be performed. Our center’s fee for a DII breast scan is $195.00, which includes consultation, imaging, a written report, and a copy of the report sent to your doctor. A copy of the report will be sent to you within two weeks. If you are concerned and wish to have your results quickly, you may arrange this with our office for an additional fee.
Will my insurance cover the test?
This all depends on your individual insurance coverage. Some companies cover the procedure while others do not. Our policy is to receive payment at the time of service while providing you with all of the paperwork necessary for you to submit the bill to your insurance company for reimbursement. Thermography is not covered by medicare.
Does Digital Infrared Imaging replace mammograms?
Absolutely not! However, do mammograms replace DII? The answer to this is also a resounding no; the two tests complement each other. DII is to be used in addition to mammography as part of a woman's regular breast health care. The consensus among health care experts is that no one procedure or method of imaging is solely adequate for breast cancer screening. The false negative and positive rates for currently used examination tests (including DII) are too high for the procedures to be used alone. However, DII may pick up many of the 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 DII’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.
Is Digital Infrared Imaging an approved procedure?
Yes, in 1982 DII was approved by the FDA as a breast imaging procedure to be used in addition to other imaging tests and/or examination procedures.
Who is qualified to take and interpret Digital Infrared 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. Only properly trained doctors possess the necessary skill set to clinically manage a patient from an analysis of thermographic images. Any individual wishing to perform DII in their office with the images sent for outside interpretation, should be certified as a Thermographic Technician by one of the same organizations. See About Our Center.
What other centers perform Digital Infrared Imaging?
Because of the special training, technical expertise, and unique clinical environmental needs necessary to perform DII, many centers do not have this technology as of yet. Currently, independent digital infrared imaging centers and highly specialized independent breast clinics are the most common place to find this technology.
Can you provide my organization with a speaker?
Yes, we certainly can. Simply contact us with a description of your organization (university, women's group, service club, etc.), and its location, and we would be glad to reply. Since we are frequently asked to speak on this important issue, please give us ample notice before the lecture in order for us to provide a speaker for you.
How can I find a Digital Infrared Imaging lab in my area?
You will find an up-to-date list of international qualified breast thermography centers at this link (Qualified Centers).
Why haven’t I heard of Digital Infrared Imaging before?
Due to a poorly constructed and performed (with regards to Breast Thermography) research study back in the 1970’s, DII was placed in a "further study needed" and "no improvement over mammography" category. Along with this study, health care politics and insurance cost-containment issues caused interest in this technology to be put on hold. However, with the combination of a multitude of large-scale studies performed in the 80’s and 90’s, and recent advances in technology, DII is emerging as an important addition to a woman's regular breast health care.
I mentioned Digital Infrared Imaging to my doctor and was told that the procedure is outdated and useless, is this true?
Unfortunately, many physicians either do not know about this technology or are knowledgeable about a single poorly performed (with regards to DII) research study; the BCDDP (Breast Cancer Detection Demonstration Project). The BCDDP was a large study done in the 1970’s that collected data from many centers around the United States. Three methods of breast cancer detection were studied: physical examination, mammography, and thermography.
With regards to thermography, the BCDDP was seriously flawed in six critical areas.
- Completely untrained technicians were used to perform the scans.
- The study used radiologists who had no experience or knowledge in reading infrared images.
- No standardized reading protocol had yet been established for infrared imaging.
- Proper laboratory environmental controls were completely ignored. In fact, many of the research sites were mobile trailers with extreme variations in internal temperatures.
- Low resolution industrial grade infrared imagers were used.
- The initial premise of the study was flawed: "A negative thermogram would preclude the need for a mammogram." A fuctional imaging test (thermography) cannot replace a structural imaging procedure (mammography). These two imaging tools complement each other. Thermography is to be used in addition to mammography, not as a replacement.
Of considerable concern was the reading of the images. It wasn’t until the early 1980’s that established and standardized reading protocols were introduced. Considering these facts, the BCDDP could not have properly evaluated infrared imaging. With the advent of known laboratory environmental controls, established reading protocols, and state-of-the-art infrared technology, a poorly performed 20-year-old study cannot be used to determine the appropriateness of DII.