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Thermal Effusivity: A Promising Imaging Biomarker to Predict Radiation-Induced Skin Injuries

Chu, James; Sun, Jiangang; Templeton, Alistair; Yao, Rui; Griem, Katherine

doi: 10.1097/HP.0b013e31824758c2
Review Articles

An effective screening technology is needed to triage individuals at the time of radiation incidents involving a large population. Three-dimensional thermal tomography is a relatively new development in active thermal imaging technology that produces cross-sectional images based on the subject’s ability to transfer heat—thermal effusivity—at the voxel level. This noninvasive imaging modality has been used successfully in nondestructive examination of complex materials; also it has been shown to predict the severity of radiation-induced skin injuries several days before the manifestation of severe moist desquamations or blister formation symptoms in mice at 40 Gy. If these results are confirmed at lower dose levels in human subjects, a thermal tomography imaging device may be an ideal screening tool in radiation emergencies. This imaging method is non-invasive, relatively simple, easily adaptable for field use, and when properly deployed, it will enhance public emergency preparedness for incidents involving unexpected radiation exposure.

*Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL 60612; †Nuclear Engineering Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL 60439.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

For correspondence contact: James Chu, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL 60612, or email at

(Manuscript accepted 19 December 2011)

© 2012 by the Health Physics Society