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Thermometry in paediatric practice
  1. A S El-Radhi,
  2. W Barry
  1. Queen Mary’s Hospital, Sidcup, Kent, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    A Sahib El-Radhi
    Queen Mary’s Hospital, Sidcup, Kent, UK; sahib.el-radhi{at}


Body temperature is commonly measured to confirm the presence or absence of fever. However, there remains considerable controversy regarding the most appropriate thermometer and the best anatomical site for temperature measurement. Core temperature is generally defined as the temperature measured within the pulmonary artery. Other standard core temperature monitoring sites (distal oesophagus, bladder, and nasopharynx) are accurate to within 0.1–0.2°C of core temperature and are useful surrogates for deep body temperature. However, as deep-tissue measurement sites are clinically inaccessible, physicians have utilised other sites to monitor body temperature including the axilla, skin, under the tongue, rectum, and tympanic membrane. Recent studies have shown that tympanic temperature accurately reflects pulmonary artery temperature, even when body temperature is changing rapidly. Once outstanding issues are addressed, the tympanic site is likely to become the gold standard for measuring temperature in children.

  • AT, axillary temperature
  • IRET, infrared ear-based thermometer
  • OT, oral temperature
  • RT, rectal temperature
  • TT, tympanic temperature
  • fever
  • temperature measurement
  • thermometer

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  • Competing interests: none declared