Thermal imaging cameras are often seen on police helicopters chasing criminals through fields, but this thermal image highlights a medical condition called Raynaud’s disease. Blood flow around our bodies is a careful balance of contracting and relaxing forces in vessels and arteries. In Raynaud’s disease these forces become unbalanced – a patient’s blood vessels contract more than normal, often restricting blood flow to fingers and toes. Here thermal imaging captures healthy blood flow in the person on the left compared to the cold, un-radiating hand on the right. Symptoms of Raynaud’s disease are often triggered by chilly weather, so much so that it has become known as 'an allergy to the cold'. Treatment of this mysterious condition can involve drugs called vasodilators, designed to open up the vessels and bring warm blood to fingers and toes tingling with a ‘pins and needles’ sensation.
Written by John Ankers
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
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