How Infrared can help

How does Infrared Scanning and Thermal Imaging work?

Thermography is a technology that detects infrared radiation. Infrared is electromagnetic radiation of a wavelength longer than visible light. The amount of infrared radiation emitted by an object or animal increases with temperature. Thermography is a technology that actually allows us to see in the Infrared spectrum which the human eye cannot see, using a specifically designed infrared camera. Infrared cameras have sensors that convert the infrared radiation which is emitted from the surface of skin into electrical impulses that are shown on an image as areas of colour. Usually blue/black indicates cold temperature and red/white indicates hot temperatures, with a scale of colours in between to show the varying temperatures. Thermography is widely known in electrical, building or mechanical fields and since the late 1970’s has been used in human and veterinary medical areas as a form of diagnosis.

Most experienced horse owners/trainers are able to identify heat in a leg or foot by using their hands, but there are often symptoms of discomfort or poor performance where the horse is showing no physical signs of injury. A human touch cannot identify changes in temperature of less than 2 C at one place at a time, however, our thermal camera can “see” several areas on the horse at once and immediately compare temperatures from different limbs etc., and detect changes of less than 1/30th of a degree that is 0.04C, making it easy to identify problem areas, where heat or cold for that matter is not obvious to the touch. Many issues can be detected up 2 weeks before the horse suddenly pulls up lame. Remember a horse is the master of masking and hiding lameness, in the wild their lives depended on it.

Farriers are also joining the ranks of professionals who realize the many advantages Thermography is offering. Hoof problems and hoof changes can be diagnosed with the help of Thermography, thus helping the farrier to realize the early formation of a deep abscess, laminitis, hoof imbalance and also wall bruises that require specialized shoeing.

Role of the Thermographer

The role of the Thermographer is to take images at the best angles and under the most stringent conditions. Peter Geldenhuis is a Level 2 Thermographer, who attended an intensive international Veterinary Thermography course in Dorset, England with Dr Donna L Harper (DVM). Equine Thermography is privileged to be associated with Dr Harper who is well known in the international veterinary community for her work with thermography and when necessary to have Dr Harper reporting on the thermal images taken, as she is one of only four DVMs in North America certified by the American Academy of Thermography.

We are not veterinarians or farriers and do not diagnose problems, but rather point out areas of concern that may need further investigation. A thermal imager is not a diagnostic tool, but rather a tool to highlight possible areas to help to quickly identify areas of concern.

It is a great pleasure to have this exciting technology now available for the Australian equine industry.

We are certified Level 2 Thermographers who understand infrared radiation and how the equipment works and as such will be able to work well with veterinarians, farriers, trainers and horse owners.

What makes thermography so useful ?
There are three things that make infrared thermography so uniquely useful.

It is non-contact – uses remote sensing
Thermography does not intrude upon or affect the horse at all.

It is two-dimensional
Comparison between areas of the target is possible: we can measure temperature in two points or a hundred points in the same image, and compare them.

It is real time
Immediate action is possible as real-time imaging allows us to do very fast scanning of stationary targets.

It is important to know that this service is available to all horses, not only to race horses, horse jumping or athletes.

Here is an example of infrared image diagnostics
This is the same horse, notice the right pectoril heat pattern is bigger than the left and the effect it is having on the right forearm down to the knee.