Israeli thermal imaging technology, originally created to track terrorists and protect borders, is getting a new iteration that will allow doctors to see more clearly inside their patients’ bodies.
Sheba Medical Center has entered into a new agreement to reuse thermal imaging technologies previously only used for military and security purposes. This week, Sheba and Opgal, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems, have signed the contract.
In the medical field, thermal imaging is only used occasionally, but Sheba’s Dr. Boris Orkin told The Times of Israel that the new partnership could lead to developments that make the technique as common as stethoscopes.
The director of the Center for Surgical Innovations at Sheba, Orkin, told The Times of Israel that thermal cameras “may become as common as stethoscopes, and there may be devices in every doctor’s pocket.” The center will create new applications for this technology.
Using the energy and heat changes in the body seen on a computer screen, thermal cameras, he says, have the potential to help with a variety of issues in human imaging, such as helping doctors better understand physiological processes that take place in the body.
According to Orkin, this technology can be used in a medical context for a variety of purposes, such as giving doctors and surgeons a clear picture of the carbon dioxide exhaled by patients and helping them correctly identify the movement of blood vessels.
Elbit is one of Israel’s largest defense companies, and according to Orkin, reusing one of its subsidiaries’ thermal imaging technologies could bring “enormous benefits” in the field of healthcare.
Opgal CEO Tsachi Israel stated that “thermal technology has the potential to help medical teams around the world see the invisible and make more accurate diagnoses,” adding that he looks forward to working with Sheba to “innovate with in order to save lives and prevent the suffering of many patients”. Until now, thermal technology has helped soldiers on the battlefield and pilots during takeoff and landing.