Diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) refers to the nerve damage that can occur in diabetes patients. It most often affects the extremities, such as the feet, and can lead to peripheral vascular disease, deformity, infection, ulceration, and even amputation. The key to managing diabetic foot is prevention and early detection. Unfortunately, current existing diagnostic techniques are mostly based on patient sensations and exhibit significant inter- and intra-observer differences. We have developed a computer aided diagnostic (CAD) system for diabetic peripheral neuropathy. The thermal response of the feet of diabetic patients following cold stimulus is captured using an infrared camera. The plantar foot in the images from a thermal video are segmented and registered for tracking points or specific regions. The temperature recovery of each point on the plantar foot is extracted using our bio-thermal model and analyzed. The regions that exhibit abnormal ability to recover are automatically identified to aid the physicians to recognize problematic areas. The key to our CAD system is the segmentation of infrared video. The main challenges for segmenting infrared video compared to normal digital video are (1) as the foot warms up, it also warms up the surrounding, creating an ever changing contrast; and (2) there may be significant motion during imaging. To overcome this, a hybrid segmentation algorithm was developed based on a number of techniques such as continuous max-flow, model based segmentation, shape preservation, convex hull, and temperature normalization. Verifications of the automatic segmentation and registration using manual segmentation and markers show good agreement.
The purpose of this research is to quantify functional signals in the microvascular circulation of the plantar. Our device
is based on thermal and spectral technologies that can be easily adopted in clinical and tele-screening settings. Eightytwo
thousand amputations are performed annually on diabetics in the US. The cost of foot disorder diagnosis and
management are estimated at $10.9 billion dollars annually. Our experiments on normal controls and diabetics assess the
temperature recovery time characteristics due to cold provocation to the bottom of the foot (plantar). A difference in the
nature of the recovery time between normal controls and diabetics was observed.