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Image of the Week: Raynaud’s Phenomenon

6 Feb, 2015

N0037151 Raynaud's Phenomenon

Handily (do you see what we did there?) this week’s image, ‘Raynaud’s Phenomenon’, coincides with Raynaud’s awareness month 2015. The image is a thermogram- or thermal image – and shows the hand of a person experiencing symptoms of Raynaud’s next to one from a person who is unaffected.

Do you have any idea which is which?

Raynaud’s phenomenon (also referred to as Raynaud’s syndrome or Raynaud’s disease) affects the bodily extremities, most commonly the hands and feet. On exposure to cold or stress, the blood vessels at the extremities constrict, restricting the flow of blood, this is called vasoconstriction. When this happens in the hand, fingers will often be seen to change colour, becoming very pale as less blood reaches the surface of the skin. The reduction of warm blood flowing through these areas results in less radiation of heat from the affected area – as seen in this image.

The condition has been visualised using thermal infrared, which allows us to visualise thermal energy or radiation, more commonly referred to as heat. This type of energy is within the infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The different colours in the images represent different levels of thermal energy being emitted from the skin’s surface. In this case the yellow and orange colours show a high level of thermal energy while the black, pink and blue show a low level. Looking at the colour pattern in this image allows us to tell that it is the hand on the right is the one, which belongs to a person with Raynaud’s.

Image credit: Thermal Vision Research/Wellcome Images. (Text by Carly Dakin.)

Wellcome Images is one of the world’s richest and most unusual collections, with themes ranging from medical and social history to contemporary healthcare and biomedical science. Over 100,000 high resolution images from our historical collections are now free to use under the Creative Commons-Attribution only (CC-BY) licence.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 6 Feb, 2015 5:28 pm

    Reblogged this on Blogging For Dopamine and commented:
    I’ve wanted to write a post on this for ages! Looks like The Wellcome Trust beat me to it though, so I thought I’d share this image with my readers. As someone who this happens to, I remember being really confused when my hands would go this weird incredibly pale colour and feel really odd when it’s cold, then take ages to warm up before going back to normal, and only realised why it happens when a biology teacher mentioned it!

  2. Paul Bucknall permalink
    8 Feb, 2015 12:52 pm

    I have suffered with this for over 20 years. Even in summer I have to wear gloves if it’s windy. Outdoors below 5C is permafrost to me

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