Pre-hospital core temperature measurement in accidental and therapeutic hypothermia

High Alt Med Biol. 2014 Jun;15(2):104-11. doi: 10.1089/ham.2014.1008. Epub 2014 Jun 20.


Core temperature (T core) measurement is the only diagnostic tool to accurately assess the severity of hypothermia. International recommendations for management of accidental hypothermia encourage T core measurement for triage, treatment, and transport decisions, but they also recognize that lack of equipment may be a limiting factor, particularly in the field. The aim of this nonsystematic review is to highlight the importance of field measurement of T core and to provide practical guidance for clinicians on pre-hospital temperature measurement in accidental and therapeutic hypothermia. Clinicians should recognize the difference between alternative measurement locations and available thermometers, tailoring their decision to the purpose of the measurement (i.e., intermittent vs. continual measurement), and the impact on management decisions. The importance of T core measurement in therapeutic hypothermia protocols during early cooling and monitoring of target temperature is discussed.

Keywords: accidental hypothermia; core temperature measurement; pre-hospital triage, treatment and transport decisions; therapeutic hypothermia; thermometer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Temperature*
  • Decision Support Techniques
  • Emergency Medical Services / methods*
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia / diagnosis*
  • Hypothermia / physiopathology
  • Hypothermia, Induced*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Thermometers
  • Thermometry / instrumentation
  • Thermometry / methods*
  • Triage / methods