Background: Core temperature can be accurately measured from the esophagus or nasopharynx during general anesthesia, but neither site is suitable for neuraxial anesthesia. We therefore determined the precision and accuracy of a novel wireless axillary thermometer, the iThermonitor, to determine its suitability for use during neuraxial anesthesia and in other patients who are not intubated.
Methods: We enrolled 80 adults having upper abdominal surgery with endotracheal intubation. Intraoperative core temperature was measured in distal esophagus and was estimated at the axilla with a wireless iThermonitor WT701 (Raiing Medical, Boston MA) at 5-minute intervals. Pairs of axillary and reference distal esophageal temperatures were compared and summarized using linear regression and repeated-measured Bland-Altman methods. We a priori determined that the iThermonitor would have clinically acceptable accuracy if most estimates were within ±0.5°C of the esophageal reference, and suitable precision if the limits of agreement were within ±0.5°C.
Results: There were 3339 sets of paired temperatures. Axillary and esophageal temperatures were similar, with a mean difference (esophageal minus axillary) of only 0.14°C ± 0.26°C (standard deviation). The Bland-Altman 95% limits of agreement were reasonably narrow, with the estimated upper limit at 0.66°C and the lower limit at -0.38°C, thus ±0.52°C, indicating good agreement across the range of mean temperatures from 34.9°C to 38.1°C. The absolute difference was within 0.5°C in 91% of the measurements (95% confidence interval, 88%-93%).
Conclusions: Axillary temperature, as recorded by the iThermonitor WT701, well represents core temperature in adults having noncardiac surgery and thus appears suitable for clinical use.