A Comparison of Technologies Used for Estimation of Body Temperature

Physiol Meas. 2010 Sep;31(9):1105-18. doi: 10.1088/0967-3334/31/9/003. Epub 2010 Jul 23.


Body temperature measurement is an important clinical parameter. The performance of a number of non-invasive thermometers was measured by comparing intra- and inter-operator variability (n = 100) and clinical accuracy (n = 61). Variability was elevated in febrile compared to normothermic subjects for axillary and oral electronic contact thermometer measures and a temporal artery thermometer (p < 0.001 for both). Temporal artery thermometry and one mode of an infrared tympanic thermometer demonstrated significant clinical inaccuracy (p < 0.001 for both). Electronic contact thermometer repeatability and reproducibility are highly variable in febrile adults both in the axilla and oral cavity. Infrared thermometry of the skin over the superficial temporal artery is unreliable for measuring core body temperature, particularly in febrile subjects and patients in theatre. The infrared tympanic thermometers tested are acceptable for clinical practice; however, care should be exercised with the different modes of operation offered.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Axilla
  • Body Temperature*
  • Humans
  • Mouth
  • Observer Variation
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Thermometers*