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Original article
Infrared thermography in paediatrics: a narrative review of clinical use
  1. Ruaridh Owen1,
  2. Shammi Ramlakhan2,3
  1. 1 Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
  2. 2 Emergency Department, Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield, UK
  3. 3 Department of Clinical Surgical Sciences, University of the West Indies, Trinidad, West Indies
  1. Correspondence to Ruaridh Owen; armowen1{at}


Background Infrared thermography (IRT) has been used in adult medicine for decades, but recent improvements in quality of imaging and increasing computer processing power have allowed for a diversification of clinical applications. The specific usage of IRT in a paediatric population has not been widely explored, so this article aims to summarise the available literature in this area. IRT involves the non-contact, accurate measurement of skin surface temperature to identify temperature changes suggesting disease. IRT could well have unique applications in paediatric medicine.

Methods Electronic searches were performed independently by two authors, using the databases of MEDLINE (via Web of Science), the Cochrane Library, CINAHL (EBSCO) and Scopus, including articles published from 1990 to July 2016. The search strategy that was used aimed to include articles that covered the topics of IRT and children, including studies with participants 18 years old or younger. Articles were screened by title and abstract by two authors. Meta-analysis was not performed due to the marked heterogeneity in applications, study design and outcomes: this is a narrative summary of the available literature.

Results IRT has been shown to be an effective additional diagnostic tool in a number of different paediatric specialties, namely in fracture screening, burns assessment and neonatal monitoring. Small measurable skin temperature changes can effectively add to the clinical picture, while computer-tracking systems can be reliably used to focus investigations on particular areas of the body.

Conclusion Throughout this review of the available literature, there has been a general consensus that this non-invasive, non-irradiating and relatively inexpensive technology may well have a place in the management of paediatric patients in the future.

  • general paediatrics
  • temp regulation
  • screening
  • rheumatology

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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