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Authors: Prof. Robin Williams and Gigi Williams

Biomedical applications: Blood & vascular studies

Application Notes Reference
Varicose veins Photographed varicose veins hidden by eczema. Described how infrared penetrated eczema to give a clear picture of varicose veins and ulcer underneath.< Haxthausen 1933
Cutaneous veins Noted that infrared recorded cutaneous veins with great clarity and commented that infrared photography would be useful in medicine. Rawling 1933
Obstruction of major veins Showed infrared photographs of an obstruction of the subclavian vein which had caused congested superficial veins. Also used the technique on the obstruction of femoral, subclavian and portal veins and of the vena cava. Concluded further work was necessary to determine clinical significance of technique. Barker & Julin 1934
Varicose veins Examined superficial venous system using Ilford IR plates. Showed varicose veins in legs and an AP trunk of a patient suffering from oedema of the legs following femoral thrombosis. Each infrared record showed the venous system more clearly than the normal record. Payne 1934
Cirrhosis of liver Showed photographs of collateral venous circulation in the abdominal wall consequent upon cirrhosis of the liver. Jones 1935
Absorption/ Reflection of Blood Showed that oxy- and carboxyhaemoglobin could be differentiated with infrared photography. Oxy- reflecting infrared and carboxy- absorbing it. Eggert 1935
Varicose veins Showed infrared photographs delineating varicose veins. Feldman 1936
Varicose veins Reported use of the infrared technique in the assessment of injection techniques for varicose veins and concluded that care was needed in interpreting the results. Noted some varicose veins showed on the infrared record while other visible one did not. Believed the thickness of the skin and the vessel walls were factors in determining which veins would be revealed in the infrared record. Wilson 1937
Thrombosis Showed the infrared record to be useful for delineating superficial veins in cases of thrombosis of the axillary vein. Kaplan 1938
Pericardial effusion Studied the effects of pericardial effusion. Photographs showed engorgement of the superficial veins as venous pressure increased. Stewart et al. 1938
Portal cirrhosis Showed venous blood in collateral circulation. Noted that arteries were invisible while veins appeared very dark. Believed the technique was good for early diagnosis of portal cirrhosis. Jankelson & Baker 1938
Congenital heart disease Showed the superficial venous pattern in congenital heart disease and concluded that infrared photography was helpful in showing the increase in the number and size of superficial veins with this condition. Showed the first application of the technique to cyanosis. Epstein 1939
Congenital heart disease Demonstrated the superficial venous patterns and cyanosis resulting from congenital heart disease. Dent 1941
Portal vein Infrared was shown to be useful to detect increasing pressure in the portal venous system on 113 patients, and it was stated that infrared photography was better than observation or normal photography. Wayburn 1942
Collateral circulation Showed the usefulness of an infrared photograph of the superficial collateral veins in a patient twenty-six days after establishment of a portal-caval shunt in his studies of non-suture anastomosis. Blakemore & Lord 1945
Cutaneous arterial spiders Worked on the theory that rather than showing something in the infrared record he would "show" things by its absence in the infrared records. He claimed, therefore, that infrared photographs were able to show the distinction between large cutaneous lesions, which absorbed infrared, and arterial spiders which reflected infrared, and therefore did not appear on the infrared record. Bean 1945
Venous stars Found that infrared provided clear evidence that the venous star had intimate association with large underlying veins, but that the technique could not differentiate between arterial spiders which were obliterated in the infrared record and the blue lesion of Osler's hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia which was also not visible in the infrared record. Therefore, he concluded that the infrared technique could not differentiate between arterial and venous lesions of the skin. Bean 1951
Liver disease Compared needle biopsy and infrared photography and concluded that the needle biopsy was better at diagnosing this condition. Jankelson & Baker 1954
Vascular spiders Presented infrared photographs of a wide range of dermatological manifestations and other vascular abnormalities in an article primarily about vascular spiders. Bean 1958
Post-prandial engorgement Demonstrated how the superficial venous pattern of a 12-year-old girl became greatly intensified after lunch. Suggested caution in interpreting venous patterns of the trunk and abdomen in view of this abnormal finding. Gibson 1961
Venous engorgement Paper on photography for various skin diseases which briefly mentioned infrared photography and showed an example of how venous blood absorbed infrared making the technique useful for venous engorgement, or collateral circulation. Lunnon 1961
Reflection & absorption of blood Challenged the established theory of venous and arterial blood absorption/reflection characteristics of infrared, and suggested that it may not have been the blood reflecting infrared in the case of arteries but that the artery walls themselves may have reflected infrared. Gibson 1962
Haemosiderin Also suggested that colour infrared could detect hemosiderin and that melanin could be distinguished from venous blood. Gibson 1962
Superficial veins Concluded that infrared photography was inconvenient and costly and therefore prevented the regular application to the assessment of venous pattern changes but that it was helpful to observe the patient through deep red goggles. Fear & Muggia 1962
Vena cava Classified different types of inferior vena cava obstruction and illustrated it with infrared photographs. Missal et al. 1965
Angiography of the brain Described a new approach to angiography of the brain using infrared absorption where the passage of absorbent dye is recorded dark on a brightly rendered adnexia. Used colour infrared film with a 12Y filter. Choromokos et al. 1969
Burns Used infrared photography to penetrate burn eschar and establish whether a good blood supply existed beneath the burn's slough. Anselmo & Zawacki 1973
Burns Previous work on penetration of burn eschar followed up with a multi-spectral approach using red, green and infrared cameras simultaneously. Stated that it was a useful technique but the analysis was laborious. Anselmo & Zawacki 1977
Burns Described penetration of burn eschar with infrared to examine underlying blood supply. Concluded that the assessment of burn depth could be greatly enhanced and that further work should be done in the area. Stevenson 1981
Burns Described a television system based on Anselmo and Zawacki's work using the multi-spectral method of red, green, and infrared bands. Concluded that it was good for predicting the healing outcome of burns.  


  • Anselmo, V. and Zawacki, B., 1973. "Infrared photography as a diagnostic tool for the burn wound," Quan. Imagery Biomed. Sci.II 40 (Aug 1973):181-188.
  • Anselmo, V. and Zawacki, B, 1977. "Multispectral photographic analysis- a new quantitative tool to assist in the early diagnosis of thermal burn depth," Ann. Biomed. Eng. 5:179-193.
  • Bean, W., 1945. "A note on infrared photography of cutaneous arterial 'spiders' and hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasia," J. Lab. Clin.Med. 30:190.
  • Bean, W., 1951. "A note on venous stars," Trans.Ass.Am.Phys. 64:100-108.
  • Bean, W., 1958. Vascular spiders and related lesions of the skin. Charles C. Thomas. Springfield. USA.
  • Blakemore, A. and Lord, J., 1945. "Portalcaval anastomosis by the nonsuture method for the relief of portal hypertension," J.A.M.A. 127:750-753.
  • Choromokos, E., Kogurie, K. & David, N., 1969 "Infrared absorption angiography," J. Biol. Photogr. Ass. 37(2):100-104.
  • Dent, R., 1941. "The photographic aspect of light of the superficial venous pattern in congenital heart disease with cyanosis," Am. HeartJ. 18:282-283.
  • Eggert, J., 1935. "Fortschritte und grenzleistungen in der infrarotphotographie,' Veroffentl. Wiss. Zentral. Lab. Photo. Abt. AGFA. 4:101-118.
  • Epstein, B., 1939. "Infrared photographic demonstration of the superficial venous pattern in congestive heart disease with cyanosis," Am. Heart J. 18:282-289.
  • Fear, R. and Muggia, F., 1962. "Convenient visualization of venous patterns," Arch. Int. Med. 110:898-899.
  • Feldman, J., 1936. "A review of infrared photography with reference to its value in ophthalmology," Arch. Ophthalmol. 15:435-442.
  • Gibson, H., 1961. "Postprandial intensification of venous pattern-an example demonstrated by infrared photography," Med. Radiogr. Photogr. 37:16-18.
  • Gibson, H., 1962. "The photography of infrared luminescence" Med. Biol. Illustr. 12:155-166.
  • Haxthausen, H., 1933. "Infrared photography of subcutaneous varices in ulcer and eczema of the leg," Brit. J. Derm. 45:506-511.
  • Jankelson, I., Zamcheck, N. & Baker, H., 1954. "Correlation between needle biopsy of the liver and infrared photography of the abdomen in cirrhosis of the liver," Am. J. Gastoent. 21(1):9-17.
  • Jones,E., 1935. "The demonstration of collateral venous circulation in the abdominal wall by means of infrared photography," Am. J. Med. Sci. 190:479-485.
  • Kaplan, T., 1938. "Thrombosis of the axillary vein, report of five cases with comments on etiology, pathology and diagnosis," J. Am. Med. Ass. 110:2059-2064.
  • Lunnon, R., 1961. "Some observations on the photography of diseased skin," Med. Biol. Illustr. 11:98-103.
  • Missal, M., Robinson, J. & Tatum, R., 1965. "Inferior vena cava obstruction," Ann. Int. Med. 62:133-161.
  • Payne, R., 1934. "Infrared photography of the superficial venous system," Lancet 226:235-236.
  • Rawling, S., 1933. Infrared photography Blackie & Son Ltd. London. 56pp.
  • Stevenson, J., 1981. "Penetration of eschar by infrared photography," J. Audiovis. Media Med. 4:141-143.
  • Stewart, H., Crane, M. and Deitrick, M., 1938. "Studies of pericardial effusion Am. Heart J. 16:189-197.
  • Wayburn, E., 1942. "Infrared photography of the abdominal wall," Am. J. Diges. Dis. 9 (11):392-394.
  • Wilson, E., 1937. "The changes in infrared photographs taken during the treatment of varicose veins," Am. J. Surg. 37:470-474.

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