Background: Thermal assessment of the plantar surface of the foot using spot thermometers and thermal imaging has been proven effective in diabetic foot ulcer prevention. However, with traditional cameras this is limited to single spots or a two-dimensional (2D) view of the plantar side of foot, where only 50% of the ulcers occur. To improve ulcer detection, the view has to be extended beyond 2D. Our aim is to explore for proof of concept the combination of three-dimensional (3D) models with thermal imaging for inflammation detection in diabetic foot disease.
Method: From eight participants with a current diabetic foot ulcer we simultaneously acquired a 3D foot model and three thermal infrared images using a high-resolution medical 3D imaging system aligned with three smartphone-based thermal infrared cameras. Using spatial transformations, we aimed to map thermal images onto the 3D model, to create the 3D visualizations. Expert clinicians assessed these for quality and face validity as +, +/-, -.
Results: We could replace the texture maps (color definitions) of the 3D model with the thermal infrared images and created the first-ever 3D thermographs of the diabetic foot. We then converted these models to 3D PDF-files compatible with the hospital IT environment. Face validity was assessed as + in six and +/- in two cases.
Conclusions: We have provided a proof of concept for the creation of clinically useful 3D thermal foot images to assess the diabetic foot skin temperature in 3D in a hospital IT environment. Future developments are expected to improve the image-processing techniques to result in easier, handheld applications and driving further research.
- Diabetic foot
- Foot ulcer
- Thermal infrared
- 3D thermography