A comparison of the use of tympanic, axillary, and rectal thermometers in infants

J Pediatr Nurs. 1999 Apr;14(2):88-93. doi: 10.1016/S0882-5963(99)80042-6.


This study examined the relationship between three instruments used in measuring tympanic, axillary, and rectal temperatures in infants less than 1 year of age. Temperatures were measured by Oto-temp Pedi Q tympanic thermometers, Becton Dickinson axillary thermometer, and rectal thermometers. A convenience sample of 5 infants less than 90 day and 54 greater than 90 days with fever, as well as 34 infants less than 90 days and 27 infants greater than 90 days without fever were studied. Correlations of infants less than 90 days and greater 90 days of age, as well as differences between infant temperature with and without fevers as variables, were examined. Results indicated a strong statistical relationship between Oto-Temp Pedi Q, Becton Dickinson axillary temperatures, and rectal temperatures, but not strong enough to base critical clinical decisions. Age and presence or absence of fever significantly affected the relationships between thermometers.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Axilla
  • Body Temperature*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Nursing Assessment*
  • Pediatric Nursing*
  • Rectum
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Thermometers / standards*
  • Tympanic Membrane