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In this paper, a computer-based prototype device was designed based on an economical noninvasive system that could detect and display the relative skin temperature variations present in human patients suffering from thyroid disorders. Such a system could be used to augment the normal procedures followed by the physician in diagnosing the thyroid to detect areas of hyperactivity within the gland. Because a hyperactive nodule is a center of increased blood flow and chemical activity, it might be also a center of heat production that is detectable by thermal sensing. This paper also presents a finite-element analysis (FEA) of a hot thyroid nodule that is used for investigating the temperature distribution in conjunction with the prototype. The instrumentation model built was based on actual dimensional human model for thyroid nodules obtained from various patients. A software program was written in Visual Basic to detect the temperature distribution around the hot spot. The software also incorporates means to minimize the thermal noise associated with the body temperature. The FEA utilizes the same boundary values used in the practical settings. This includes initial values of temperatures for the hot spot and its surroundings. The results of the finite-element simulation assisted in the selection of the solid state sensors that were used in the instrumentation of the thermographic system. The selected sensors were calibrated for their functionality and dynamic performance according to the specifications. The new noninvasive diagnostic technique was applied to patients having Graves' diseases at the Indiana University (IU) Hospital, and compared with the existing scheme that utilizes I Scan. The results of the new diagnostic method were in good agreement with the current existing method.
Date of Publication: March 2008