In burn wounds early discrimination between the different depths plays an important role in the treatment strategy. The remaining vasculature in the wound determines its healing potential. Non-invasive measurement tools that can identify the vascularization are therefore considered to be of high diagnostic importance. Thermography is a non-invasive technique that can accurately measure the temperature distribution over a large skin or tissue area, the temperature is a measure of the perfusion of that area. The aim of this study was to investigate the clinimetric properties (i.e. reliability and validity) of thermography for measuring burn wound depth.
In a cross-sectional study with 50 burn wounds of 35 patients, the inter-observer reliability and the validity between thermography and Laser Doppler Imaging were studied. With ROC curve analyses the ΔT cut-off point for different burn wound depths were determined.
The inter-observer reliability, expressed by an intra-class correlation coefficient of 0.99, was found to be excellent. In terms of validity, a ΔT cut-off point of 0.96°C (sensitivity 71%; specificity 79%) differentiates between a superficial partial-thickness and deep partial-thickness burn. A ΔT cut-off point of -0.80°C (sensitivity 70%; specificity 74%) could differentiate between a deep partial-thickness and a full-thickness burn wound.
This study demonstrates that thermography is a reliable method in the assessment of burn wound depths. In addition, thermography was reasonably able to discriminate among different burn wound depths, indicating its potential use as a diagnostic tool in clinical burn practice.
Mariëlle E. Jaspers, Ilse M. Maltha, John H. Klaessens, Henrica C. Vet, Rudolf M. Verdaasdonk, and Paul P. Zuijlen, "Noninvasive measurement of burn wound depth applying infrared thermal imaging (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 9689, Photonic Therapeutics and Diagnostics XII, 96890H (Presented at SPIE BiOS: February 14, 2016; Published: 27 April 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2213286.4828028231001.
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