Thermal Imaging as a Noninvasive Diagnostic Tool for Anterior Knee Pain Following Implantation of Artificial Knee Joints

Mathias Glehr, Alexander Stibor, Patrick Sadoghi, Christian Schuster, Franz Quehenberger, Gerald Gruber, Andreas Leithner, Reinhard Windhager
2.312 549


The variety of radiographic diagnostic used to diagnose pain localised close to metal implants is still limited. Especially magnetic resonance results can not be analysed because of artefacts. In this article we present for the first time a direct correlation between an increase in skin temperature and existent anterior knee pain after total knee arthroplasty (TKA) measured with thermography.

In a standardised way 26 knees were analysed. Thermographic photos were taken from frontal, medial and lateral directions with a computer-assisted infrared thermograph. In medial location (median 0.95 °C, p=0.0043), as well as in lateral location (median 0.5 °C, p=0.032) temperatures in locations with pain were significantly higher compared to the reference field. Median temperature difference between pain localization and localizations without pain was 0.7 °C and ranged from 0.1 °C to 1.7 °C on the side of the pain. In the ROC analysis the sensitivity of this method was 1.0 and specificity was 0.917. The evidence of a significant increase in skin temperature on the painful sites opened up the possibility to localize and assess pain more precisely in patients with total knee prosthesis. We consider this novel, rapid, inexpensive and non-invasive technology to posses the potential to become a useful and objective tool for diagnosis of pain and inflammation and to generate digital data that can be stored and analysed in clinical practice.


Thermography; Total Knee Arthroplasty; Objective Pain Evaluation

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