Insufficiency in a New Temporal-Artery Thermometer for Adult and Pediatric Patients

Anesth Analg. 2002 Jul;95(1):67-71, table of contents. doi: 10.1097/00000539-200207000-00012.


SensorTouch is a new noninvasive temperature monitor and consists of an infrared scanner that detects the highest temperature on the skin of the forehead, presumably over the temporal artery. The device estimates core temperature (T(core)). We tested the hypothesis that the SensorTouch is sufficiently precise and accurate for routine clinical use. We studied adults (n = 15) and children (n = 16) who developed mild fever, a core temperature of at least 37.8 degrees C, after cardiopulmonary bypass. Temperature was recorded at 15-min intervals throughout recovery with the SensorTouch thermometer and from the pulmonary artery (adults) or bladder (children). Pulmonary artery (T(core)) and SensorTouch (T(st)) temperatures correlated poorly in adults: T(core) = 0.7. T(st) + 13, r(2) = 0.3. Infrared and pulmonary artery temperatures differed by 1.3 +/- 0.6 degrees C; 89% of the adult temperatures thus differed by more than 0.5 degrees C. Bladder and infrared temperatures correlated somewhat better in pediatric patients: T(core) = 0.9. T(st) + 12, r(2) = 0.6. Infrared and bladder temperatures in children differed by only 0.3 degrees C, but the SD of the difference was 0.5 degrees C. Thus, 31% of the values in the infants and children differed by more than 0.5 degrees C.

Implications: We evaluated a noninvasive infrared forehead thermometer (SensorTouch) in adult and pediatric cardiac patients. Accuracy was poor in the adults and suboptimal in infants and children.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Temperature / physiology*
  • Cardiopulmonary Bypass
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Fever / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Intraoperative
  • Temporal Arteries / physiology*
  • Thermometers / standards*