A comparison of aural and rectal temperature measurements in children with moderate and severe injuries

J Emerg Nurs. 1996 Oct;22(5):403-8. doi: 10.1016/s0099-1767(96)80160-7.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to compare initial rectal and aural (i.e., ear-based) temperature measurements in children with moderate and severe injuries during their trauma care in the emergency department.

Design: A cross-sectional, prospective design was used to compare aural temperature and rectal temperatures in injured children.

Sample/setting: A convenience sample of 40 children who met the study inclusion criteria were enrolled at the level I pediatric regional resource trauma center in western Pennsylvania.

Methods: Aural temperature was measured by infrared technology (IVAC Corporation, San Diego, Calif.), and rectal temperatures were measured with a thermistor (IVAC Corporation).

Results: The subjects (N = 40) ranged in age from 1 to 14 years (mean 6.9 years; SD = 4.4 years). The mean difference between rectal and aural temperature measurements (mean = -0.3 degree C; SD = 0.76 degree C) was statistically significant when compared with a paired t test (p < 0.05). The Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient between aural and rectal temperature measurements was moderate to high (r = 0.85).

Conclusion: The moderate to high correlation between the two methods shows promise for use of aural infrared temperature measurements as a screening measure for children with moderate and severe injuries.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia / diagnosis*
  • Hypothermia / etiology
  • Infant
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rectum*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Thermometers / standards*
  • Tympanic Membrane*
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications*