Infrared thermal analysis and individual differences in skin temperature asymmetry in Rett syndrome

Frank J. Symons, Breanne Byiers, John Hoch, Adele Dimian, Chantel Barney, Timothy Feyma, Arthur Beisang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Purpose We evaluated the feasibility of using a portable infrared thermal camera to quantify the degree of thermal dysregulation (cold hands/feet) and test for naturally occurring within-patient skin temperature asymmetry in Rett syndrome. Procedures Infrared thermal images were acquired passively from 15 patients (mean age = 13.7 years, range 4-47) with clinical diagnoses of Rett. Images were acquired using a FLIR T400 infrared thermal camera (still images recorded at 5 Hz, resolution of 320 × 240 pixels, thermal sensitivity = 0.05°C; capture session lasted approximately 3 minutes). The infrared thermal camera was orthogonal to the body part (hands, feet) and positioned approximately 1 meter from the skin's surface. Results There were large intraindividual left/right differences in temperature. Seven (47%) and eight (53%) patients had statistically significant (P <0.05) left/right asymmetries between hands (mean difference = 0.87°C, standard deviation = 1.21) and feet (mean difference = 1.73°C, standard deviation = 3.03), respectively. Coders were reliable (intraclass correlations 0.97-0.99) on temperatures and selection of anatomical regions of interest. Conclusions The degree of thermal asymmetry may reflect prolonged activity of the sympathetic nervous system and individual differences in sympathetic regulation. As clinical trials emerge and endpoints are considered, portable infrared thermal camera may provide one noninvasive means of evaluating changes in sympathetic regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-172
Number of pages4
JournalPediatric Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported, in part, by NIH Grants HD44763 and HD35682 . The funder played no part in study design, data collection, or data analysis for this study and was not involved in the preparation of the manuscript or the decision to submit for publication. We are grateful to the Minnesota Rett Syndrome Research Association, the parents, and their daughters for their trust, support, and patience.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Rett syndrome
  • infra-red thermal
  • peripheral asymmetry
  • skin temperature


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