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European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine 2020 Oct 28

DOI: 10.23736/S1973-9087.20.06287-5

Copyright © 2020 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Musculoskeletal applications of infrared thermography on back and neck syndromes: systematic review

Nelson F. ALBUQUERQUE 1, 2 , Bruno S. LOPES 2

1 Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal; 2 Department of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, Tondela-Viseu Hospital Center, Viseu, Portugal


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INTRODUCTION: Thermography is a non-invasive method to detect temperature changes on or near the surface of the body and may be used as a complementary method to screening and/or monitoring treatment effectiveness, despite its utility has not yet been fully verified. This systematic review evaluates the role of infrared thermography as a helpful outcome measure tool in subjects with back and neck syndromes.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A literature search was conducted across the National Library of Medicine (MEDLINE), Web of Science, and Scopus databases for studies that evaluated the role of infrared thermography as a helpful outcome measure tool in subjects with back and neck syndromes. The review was conducted according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis (PRISMA).
RESULTS: The search strategy and selection criteria yielded 812 articles. From these, 268 duplicates were removed, and only 16 were in line with the aim of this review. Ultimately, only seven precisely fulfilled the inclusion and exclusion criteria and were included in the review.
DISCUSSION: According to the articles reviewed, thermography seems to give an objective notion of change in inflammatory activity, which can corroborate the usefulness of treatment or the improvement/worsening of the patient's symptoms. The overall quality of research was uneven in the study design, endpoint measures, and sample characteristics.
CONCLUSIONS: The number of high-quality studies of the role of infrared thermography in patients with back and neck syndromes remains limited. More than a diagnostic tool, thermography can be an objective tool for monitoring the effectiveness of treatment by identifying deviations from a healthy state.


KEY WORDS: Thermography; Musculoskeletal system; Back; Neck; Diagnostic imaging

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