Cold stressing is sometimes used in clinical thermography to measure the functioning of the sympathetic nervous system. It involves making an area of the body cold before running a thermographic scan. While cold stressing is not routine for breast exams, it is helpful for reflex sympathetic dystrophy (chronic pain, usually in a limb).
The protocols for Meditherm cameras do not require cold stressing routinely for breast exams. A physician or reading thermologist can specifically ask for a cold stress thermographic scan if needed.
Cancer needs a blood supply in order to grow, and these areas often show up as warmer on a thermographic scan. Thermographers who use the Meditherm thermographic camera usually use the EMI interpretation service to read and interpret the scans. EMI uses only trained physicians to interpret the scans and help detect problems such as cancer in their early stages.
When made cold, normal blood vessels in the skin are suppressed. Abnormal blood vessels do not contract as quickly or easily; therefore, potential problem area are easier to identify. The problem is that the cold stress stress is difficult to carry out. It has very strict protocols. Using it incorrectly can therefore result in false positive results.
If a thermographic interpretation is flagged as abnormal, it is usually best to follow up with a physician for more testing and possible treatment. Doing another scan using cold stressing to see if the abnormality goes away is not typical.
Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) is chronic pain, typically in a limb. It should be diagnosed by a doctor to rule out other reasons for the pain. Theories as to what causes RSD include problems with the sympathetic nervous system (the natural processes in the body that take place unconsciously) and problems with the immune system (inflammation). Clinical thermography is a diagnostic test for RSD.
Meditherm thermography cameras are excellent tools for screening for heat differences in the body that may indicate abnormalities. Cold stressing is helpful for RSD, but it is not routine for breast scans.