Evaluation of healing of pressure ulcers through thermography: a preliminary study

Introduction Thermography is a surface thermal radiation measurement technique whose application has been expanding in the healthcare field. The unhealed wound is a serious public health problem because it intervenes in the quality of life of patients and may cause emotional and psychological losses. The wound temperature can provide quantitative data that allow for the healing process to be monitored. The aim of this study was to verify whether thermography can be used as a method to evaluate the healing of pressure ulcers. Methods Eight participants with sacral pressure ulcers were recruited and randomly divided into two groups: A (control) and B (experimental). Both groups received standard treatment for a period of four weeks, which consisted of a daily cleaning of the pressure ulcers with physiological saline (sodium chloride 0.9%) followed by an alginate hydrogel dressing. The group B received light-emitting diode (LED) phototherapy in addition to standard treatment, three times a week, yielding a total of 12 sessions. Photographs and thermograms of each pressure ulcer were obtained in all sessions in both groups. Results Pressure ulcers treated with LED phototherapy were healed. The pressure ulcer area of group B decreased over the 12 treatment sessions, whereas the pressure ulcer area of group A increased. The ulcer temperature of group B was higher than that of group A during the treatment (temperature difference up to 7.6%). Discussion The present study suggests a relationship between the temperature and area of pressure ulcers and proposes thermography as an adjunctive method for the evaluation of healing processes.