Can Thermal Imaging Technique be Used to Predict the Healing Status of a Venous Leg Ulcer?



Venous leg ulcers (VLUs) are the most common chronic wound types in older populations, with many wounds not healing in the normal trajectory. Many older people with wounds are treated in their homes, currently assessed by monitoring the wound area over weeks to ascertain the potential for healing. A noncontact method using thermal imaging has been shown to predict the healing trajectory of diabetes-related foot ulcers, although has not been tested in Venous leg ulcers  or the home setting. This project investigated the effectiveness of using thermal imaging to predict Venous leg ulcers  healing in the homes of participants. Images of 78 ulcers were collected weekly using a thermal camera from 67 participants in their homes, at 5 consecutive time points. Final follow-up calls were undertaken at 12 weeks to ascertain healing status (healed/unhealed). Images were preprocessed and segmented and the area of the region of the wound was extracted. This study found that the difference in the imaged areas between unhealed ulcers at 12 weeks did not reach statistical significance using thermal imaging.

Conclusion: Therefore, thermal images could not predict healing progression in Venous leg ulcers  when the images were taken in the homes of participants, the method cannot be considered a reliable tool for diagnostics.


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