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Thermographic Analysis
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Thermographic Analysis of the Abdominal Region of Pregnant Women

Lead Investigator: Annelie Ciantar
Supervisor: Dr Owen Falzon, Centre for Biomedical Cybernetics 


Thermography in the biomedical field is becoming increasingly popular as it offers a safe and non-invasive way of obtaining information about the human body by means of skin surface temperature analysis. In this project the temperature variation of the abdominal region of both pregnant and non-pregnant healthy women was first analysed. The objectives were to find the acclimatisation period of the abdominal region of pregnant women and to predict the final temperatures across the abdominal region that would be expected following acclimatisation. 

After taking a series of images across time, two tracking methods were implemented to obtain the correct average temperature of a particular area. Thermal tracking is difficult partly due to the subjects’ movement even just due to breathing and partly due to homogenous patterns across the abdomen. The best performing tracking method was the summation of squared differences (SSD) in which each image was scanned and each area was compared to a template based on the desired area from the previous frame. The area chosen consists on the best combination of pixel similarity and distance moved from previous frame. Once temperature against time plots were obtained, different mathematical models and algorithms were explored to provide proper curve fitting that satisfies both the dynamic characteristics of the data across time and the final temperature estimation. Once applied to the first few minutes of data, these curves would be able to predict the subsequent temperatures.


Through visual inspection, the SSD tracking method yielded better results. The root mean square error between the actual temperatures and the fit values for the dynamic characteristics and final temperature estimations is less than 0.1 and 0.05 respectively when considering more than 70 minutes of data. If these errors are acceptable for medical professionals, the data acquisition time could be reduced. Most temperature differences between quadrants across the abdomen show statistical significant difference suggesting that the underlying structures of the abdomen affect its temperature. 

Temperature is a very indicative variable of human health. Thermography is a useful and promising medical tool for future studies on foetal thermography.

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