Rheumatoid arthritis: Thermal imaging technology can determine the disease

Rheumatoid arthritis: Thermal imaging technology can determine the disease

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Diagnosing Rheumatoid Arthritis Using Thermal Imaging?

Existing thermal imaging technology has the potential to become an important method for assessing rheumatoid arthritis. The diagnosis of the disease could be made significantly easier in the future.

The University of Malta's latest study found that a thermal camera can detect rheumatoid arthritis. The results of the study were published in the scientific reports published in English.

Thermal imaging technology to identify rheumatoid arthritis?

A total of 82 people took part in the current study on this topic. 31 of them suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, 51 people were healthy and served as a control group. The examination showed that both the temperature of the palm and the temperature of the fingers increased significantly in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Participants were examined for joint inflammation

The patients with rheumatoid arthritis were examined closely. Some of these people were subjected to a diagnostic ultrasound examination by a trained rheumatologist. This was to ensure that the participants showed no active signs of synovitis (inflammation of the joints) in the hands and wrists.

Palms and fingers were examined with a thermal camera

A so-called Flir T630 thermal camera was used in the study, and the researchers also adhered to the guidelines of the American Thermology Association. The results of the investigation show that there were significant differences in the temperature of the fingers and palms of the hands in healthy and rheumatoid arthritis patients.

How big were the temperature differences?

Healthy people had a palm temperature of 29.37 degrees, the temperature of their fingers averaged 27.16 degrees. In contrast, people with rheumatoid arthritis had a palm temperature of 31.4 degrees and a finger temperature of 30.22 degrees.

Ultrasound examination found no significant changes

While an ultrasound scan showed no significant changes in the study population, thermography showed a possible disease process by detecting the higher temperatures.

What is the difference in temperature due to?

The researchers assume that this temperature difference can be attributed to the underlying subclinical disease activity or that the original inflammatory process can cause irreversible thermal changes that continue after the disease activity has ended. Further research on this topic is now needed.

Thermal imaging technology could become an important clinical tool

Thermal imaging is a relatively new technology in medicine that appears to have the potential to become an important clinical tool because disease processes can vary in the strength and pattern of radiated heat in a person with rheumatoid arthritis.

Hands of people with rheumatoid arthritis have elevated temperature

It was the first study to examine thermographic patterns in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and compared them with the patterns in healthy controls. The results clearly show that the hand of a person with rheumatoid arthritis without active synovitis has higher temperatures than healthy people. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Alfred Gatt, Cecilia Mercieca, Andrew Borg, Andrea Grech, Liberato Camilleri et al .: A comparison of thermographic characteristics of the hands and wrists of rheumatoid arthritis patients and healthy controls, in Scientific Reports (query: 25.11.2019), Scientific Reports

Video: The research aiming to detect rheumatoid arthritis earlier (July 2022).


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