Diabetic foot ulcer mobile detection system using smart phone thermal camera: a feasibility study
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Background: Nowadays, the whole world is being concerned with a major health problem, which is diabetes. A very common symptom of diabetes is the diabetic foot ulcer (DFU). The early detection of such foot complications can protect diabetic patients from any dangerous stages that develop later and may require foot amputa- tion. This work aims at building a mobile thermal imaging system that can be used as an indicator for possible developing ulcers. Methods: The proposed system consists of a thermal camera connected to a Sam- sung smart phone, which is used to acquire thermal images. This thermal imaging system has a simulated temperature gradient of more than 2.2 °C, which represents the temperature difference (in the literature) than can indicate a possible development of ulcers. The acquired images are processed and segmented using basic image process- ing techniques. The analysis and interpretation is conducted using two techniques: Otsu thresholding technique and Point-to-Point mean difference technique. Results: The proposed system was implemented under MATLAB Mobile platform and thermal images were analyzed and interpreted. Four testing images (feet images) were used to test this procedure; one image with any temperature variation to the feet, and three images with skin temperature increased to more than 2.2 °C introduced at different locations. With the two techniques applied during the analysis and interpre- tation stage, the system was successful in identifying the location of the temperature increase. Conclusion: This work successfully implemented a mobile thermal imaging system that includes an automated method to identify possible ulcers in diabetic patients. This may give diabetic patients the ability for a frequent self-check of possible ulcers. Although this work was implemented in simulated conditions, it provides the neces- sary feasibility to be further developed and tested in a clinical environment.