Thermography and Scientific Publications. Reference Topics and Their Human Applications.

Thermography and Scientific Publications. Reference Topics and Their Human Applications.

05/07/2023 Infographics


Thermography is a technique that allows us to measure the surface temperature of objects, thus having a wide range of applications. This is evident when we observe the great variety of topics covered in scientific publications.

It may come as a surprise, but the field with the highest number of scientific publications related to thermography is materials research. A search on “Google Scholar” yields 124,000 publications related to these two concepts, divided among disciplines such as construction (40,600 publications) and the general industry (51,400 publications). (Figure 1)

Scientific thermography

Although the application of thermography in human medicine has a shorter history (the first publications on skin temperature in humans were conducted in 1948 by H.H. Penes), the number of publications in this field has significantly increased in recent years.

The study of human physiology and thermoregulation through thermography has made significant advances in recent years. However, it is important to acknowledge that there is much more research conducted on animals than on humans. In fact, animal research remains an area of interest due to the safety of the test and the speed of the technique. When comparing publications on animals (25,300) with those applicable to humans (23,000), it is evident that veterinary medicine greatly benefits from this technique.

At ThermoHuman, we believe it is relevant to describe the disciplines with the highest number of scientific publications utilizing infrared thermography. Furthermore, we take this opportunity to recommend some of the most relevant articles.

5 scientific branches where thermography has significant development.

Medicine: scientific results

Within the application in humans, there are different branches depending on the discipline from which the intervention with this tool is approached.

For example, in medicine, there are several areas where thermography research has made significant progress, such as its application in breast cancer.

The use of thermography for early detection of breast cancer is currently one of the most controversial topics. Thermography began to be widely used as a diagnostic tool for breast cancer in the 1960s and 1970s. Unfortunately, a few years later, several studies emerged demonstrating its lack of specificity for diagnosing this condition, with the serious confirmation of hundreds of false positives, where women were diagnosed with thermography and underwent unnecessary interventions (Moskowitz et al., 1976; Isard et al., 1972).

However, nowadays, due to technological advancements and cost reduction of equipment, numerous studies have shown that the application of artificial intelligence techniques for recognizing thermal patterns has better sensitivity and specificity than the data collected in the past century. Nevertheless, as mentioned before, this remains a controversial topic with proponents and detractors of this application.

Other applications that generate particular interest in the use of thermography in the field of medicine include its use for diabetic patients (specifically for assessing diabetic foot), evaluation of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (here is a podcast with rheumatologist Javier Bachiller), or conditions like Raynaud’s syndrome.

In the following graph, we have compiled the main keywords that relate thermography to the field of medicine (Figure 2).

Medicine scientific

Furthermore, we would like to share the three scientific articles that revolutionized our understanding of thermography applied to humans, focusing on the medical field:

Thermography in Physiotherapy.

The application of thermography as an assessment and monitoring method for injuries is one of the most researched areas with substantial evidence. Thermography allows the evaluation of tissue condition through skin temperature, thus differentiating areas that are not behaving normally by identifying thermal asymmetries. As a result, physiotherapists benefit from a tool that helps them identify problematic regions and objectively monitor the return to normal state with the applied treatments. All of this is achieved through non-invasive, rapid, and objective thermal imaging.

In this regard, the main pathologies and treatments have been investigated to assess their impact and response using thermography. In the following graph, we provide a compilation of the main keywords linking thermography with the field of physiotherapy (Figure 3).


Additionally, as in the previous section, we would like to share three scientific articles that have improved our understanding of skin temperature responses to treatments:

Thermography in Sports.

This branch is one of the most emerging ones. In 2009, when the ThermoHuman project began, there were barely a dozen scientific articles in this area. It is an honor for the entire project team to contribute significantly to the knowledge and dissemination in this field.

Currently, our main lines of research are focused on identifying injury risk factors, monitoring injuries with the goal of a safe return to competition, and identifying fatigue after competition or training through internal load. In other words: prevention, injury monitoring, and fatigue identification.

These three applications are our main tools for identifying players who are not in proper condition and optimizing their training process.

Regarding the identification of regions at risk of injury, the asymmetries methodology has provided the most accurate and reliable results. For injury monitoring, quantification and return to homeostasis should be the priority. Lastly, to improve recovery, it is necessary to generate individual longitudinal profiles based on thermal response, studying variations in each individual over time following competition stimuli and/or high training loads.

In the following graph, we provide a compilation of the keywords that have been of most interest in the sports field (Figure 4).


Additionally, we have selected the top 3 scientific studies that objectively summarize our way of working:

Thermography in Podiatry and Nursing.

Other branches that greatly benefit from the application of thermography are those involved in debridement, identification of regions with vascular problems, and even biomechanical compensations in gait or running.

As scientific literature demonstrates, there is a high correlation between blood flow and thermography. Therefore, areas that require increased blood flow for the healing process or those with poor venous return can be clearly identified using thermography. Additionally, any compensations that may arise from a pathology or acquired gait abnormalities can also be observed in the different thermal patterns, especially in the lower extremities.

As mentioned in the previous section, wounds also have a place in the application of thermography in humans, which is a very recent and highly interesting field of research.

In the following graph, we provide a compilation of the keywords that have been of most interest in the podiatry and nursing fields (Figure 4).


Additionally, we have selected the top 3 scientific studies that provide the latest insights into the application of thermography in these branches:

Thermography in Nutrition and Psychology.

There are other branches outside the sports field that are also related to human health and benefit from the application of thermography. In the following list, we will enumerate what we consider to be the most interesting research in these areas:


Please note that these topics are areas of ongoing research, and specific studies or publications may provide more detailed information on each subject.

Scientific references

PenesH. H. (1948): ‘Analysis of tissue and arterial blood temperature in the resting human forearm’,J. Appl. Physiol.,1, pp. 92–122.

Moskowitz, M., Milbrath, J., Gartside, P., Zermeno, A., & Mandel, D. (1976). Lack of efficacy of thermography as a screening tool for minimal and stage I breast cancer. New England Journal of Medicine295(5), 249-252.

Isard, H. J. (1972). Thermographic “edge sign” in breast carcinoma. Cancer30(4), 957-963.

Sillero-Quintana, M., Fernández-Jaén, T., Fernández-Cuevas, I., Gómez-Carmona, P. M., Arnaiz-Lastras, J., Pérez, M. D., & Guillén, P. (2015). Infrared thermography as a support tool for screening and early diagnosis in emergencies. Journal of Medical Imaging and Health Informatics5(6), 1223-1228.

Lahiri, B. B., Bagavathiappan, S., Jayakumar, T., & Philip, J. (2012). Medical applications of infrared thermography: a review. Infrared Physics & Technology, 55(4), 221-235.

Ramirez-GarciaLuna, J. L., Vera-Bañuelos, L. R., Guevara-Torres, L., Martínez-Jiménez, M. A., Ortiz-Dosal, A., Gonzalez, F. J., & Kolosovas-Machuca, E. S. (2020). Infrared thermography of abdominal wall in acute appendicitis: Proof of concept study. Infrared Physics & Technology105, 103165.

Lubkowska, A., & Pluta, W. (2022). Infrared Thermography as a Non-Invasive Tool in Musculoskeletal Disease Rehabilitation—The Control Variables in Applicability—A Systematic Review. Applied Sciences12(9), 4302.

Piñonosa, S., Sillero-Quintana, M., Milanović, L., Coterón, J., & Sampedro, J. (2013). Thermal evolution of lower limbs during a rehabilitation process after anterior cruciate ligament surgerya. Kinesiology45(1.), 121-129.

Park, T. Y., Son, S., Lim, T. G., & Jeong, T. (2020). Hyperthermia associated with spinal radiculopathy as determined by digital infrared thermographic imaging. Medicine, 99(11), e19483.

Gómez-Carmona, P., Fernández-Cuevas, I., Sillero-Quintana, M., Arnaiz-Lastras, J., & Navandar, A. (2020). Infrared thermography protocol on reducing the incidence of soccer injuries. Journal of sport rehabilitation29(8), 1222-1227.

Majano, C., García-Unanue, J., Hernandez-Martin, A., Sánchez-Sánchez, J., Gallardo, L., & Felipe, J. L. (2023). Relationship between Repeated Sprint Ability, Countermovement Jump and Thermography in Elite Football Players. Sensors, 23(2), 631.

Thorpe, R. T. (2021). Post-exercise recovery: Cooling and heating, a periodized approach. Frontiers in Sports and Active Living3, 707503.

Gómez-Bernal, A. G., Fernández-Cuevas, I., Santafé, J. J. A., Morcillo, A. P., & Arasanz, A. J. A. (2021). Uso de la termografía infrarroja para determinar el perfil térmico de la planta del pie en pacientes con fasciopatía plantar: estudio transversal. Revista española de podología, 32(2), 93-98.

Salazar, C. A., & Zequera Díaz, M. L. (2020). Thermography as a diagnostic tool for early detection of diabetic foot ulceration risk: a review. In VIII Latin American Conference on Biomedical Engineering and XLII National Conference on Biomedical Engineering: Proceedings of CLAIB-CNIB 2019, October 2-5, 2019, Cancún, México (pp. 1233-1252). Springer International Publishing.

da Silva Alves R, Iunes DH, Pereira IC, Borges JBC, Prado Mariano KO, Carvalho LC. Correlation Between the Trajectory of the Center of Pressure and Thermography of Cancer Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy. J Chiropr Med. 2019 Sep;18(3):180-187

Straat ME, Martinez-Tellez B, Sardjoe Mishre A, Verkleij MMA, Kemmeren M, Pelsma ICM, Alcantara JMA, Mendez-Gutierrez A, Kooijman S, Boon MR, Rensen PCN. Cold-Induced Thermogenesis Shows a Diurnal Variation That Unfolds Differently in Males and Females. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2022 May 17;107(6):1626-1635. doi: 10.1210/clinem/dgac094. PMID: 35176767; PMCID: PMC9113803.

Moliné, A., Dominguez, E., Salazar‐López, E., Gálvez‐García, G., Fernández‐Gómez, J., De la Fuente, J., … & Gómez Milán, E. (2018). The mental nose and the Pinocchio effect: Thermography, planning, anxiety, and lies. Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling15(2), 234-248.

Reis, H. H. T., Brito, C. J., Sillero-Quintana, M., da Silva, A. G., Fernández-Cuevas, I., Cerqueira, M. S., … & Marins, J. C. B. (2023). Can the body mass index influence the skin temperature of adolescents assessed by infrared thermography?. Journal of Thermal Biology111, 103424.

Europa Thermohuman ThermoHuman has had the support of the Funds of the European Union and the Community of Madrid through the Operational Programme on Youth Employment. Likewise, ThermoHuman within the framework of the Export Initiation Program of ICEX NEXT, had the support of ICEX and the co-financing of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

CDTI Thermohuman has received funding from the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI), in participation with the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), for the R+D activities involved in creating a new tool, based on thermography, for the prediction and prevention of rheumatoid arthritis. See project detail.