Korean J Spine.  2009 Dec;6(4):274-279.

Is the use of Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging Useful in Whiplash Injury?

  • 1Department of Neurosurgery, Inje University College of Medicine, Busan Paik Hospital, Busan, Korea. shpaeng@empal.com


The name of whiplash Injury derives from the etiopathogenic description of the sudden sharp whipping movement of the head and neck, symptoms are varied, manifesting as neck pain, occipital pain, dysesthesia, and weakness of arm, and so on. But there is no objective diagnostic tool for the evaluation of its symptoms. The purpose of the study is to visualize the symptomatic region before and after treatment and comparing the images obtained by infrared study.
From march 2006 to June 2008, 20 patients diagnosed as whiplash injuries were examined by digital infrared thermographic imaging system (DITI, DOREX, USA). The male-to-female ratio was 14:6 and their ages were ranging in age from 20 to 67 years, with mean age of 38.5 years. We evaluated thermal change (deltaT) in lesion area(neck and shoulder) and also compared thermal difference (deltaT (2wk-I)) after pre- & post- treatment.
Initial DITI was 34.28 +/- 2.90 on anterior neck, 34.29 +/- 2.98 on posterior neck, 33.42 +/- 2.93 on right shoulder shoulder (Lt), and 33.59 +/- 2.81 on left shoulder. DITI after 2weeks treatment was 33.60 +/- 2.88 on anterior neck, 33.78 +/- 2.99 on posterior neck, 32.79 +/- 2.78 on right shoulder, and 33.05 +/- 2.74 on left shoulder. The thermal difference of lesional area on the initial treatment and after treatment (deltaT (2wk-I)) was 0.68 +/- 0.45 on anterior neck, 0.51 +/- 0.36 on posterior neck, 0.63 +/- 0.32 on right shoulder, and 0.54 +/- 0.64 on left shoulder, and these result were statistically significant (p < 0.05). Thermal difference (deltaT) was neck 0.34 and shoulder 0.33 on initial injury, and 0.39, 0.31 after 2 weeks respectively. This finding was symmetrical and below deltaT 0.5 based on pathologic body temperature. Initial VAS (Visual Analogue Scale) of Neck was 7.9 +/- 0.78 and after 2 weeks was 3.6 +/- 1.21 the initial VAS of shoulder was 7.4 +/- 0.52 and after 2 weeks was 3.2 +/- 0.97. There was statistically significant (p=0.001).
Therefore DITI was perceived as a reliable tool in the objective assessment of treatment effect after sustaining whiplash injuries, in clinical practice.


Whiplash injury; Digital infrared thermographic imaging (DITI)

MeSH Terms

Body Temperature
Neck Pain
Whiplash Injuries
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