A comparative study of rectal, tympanic and axillary thermometry in febrile Nigerian children under five years of age

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Date

2013

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Paediatrics and International Child Health

Abstract

Background: Fever alone accounts for over 25% of paediatric emergency room consultations. Accurate determination of temperature is critical for the management of sick children by both parents and health care-providers. Aims and Objectives: To compare simultaneous measurements of temperature measured by the rectal, axillary, and tympanic routes in children under 5 admitted to the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital. Methods: 400 children under 5 years of age with a rectal temperature of §38.0uC were recruited consecutively into the study. Rectal and axillary temperatures were measured using digital thermometers. Tympanic measurements were undertaken with an infrared tympanic thermometer. All measurements were made simultaneously and compared. Results: Mean (SD) rectal temperature was 38.8 (0.7)uC, and mean (SD) tympanic and axillary temperatures were 38.7 (0.7)uC and 38.1 (0.7)uC, respectively. There was no significant difference between rectal and tympanic temperatures (P50.14), and a strong correlation was identified between values from these two sites (r50.91). At 91.5%, the sensitivity of tympanic thermometry in determining fever was higher than that of axillary measurements (54.0%). A mathematical relationship was demonstrated between rectal/tympanic temperatures and between rectal/axillary temperatures as follows: Rectal temperature (uC)56.03z0.85 * Mean tympanic temperature (uC) Rectal temperature (uC)511.7z0.71 * Axillary temperature (uC) Conclusion: In febrile children, tympanic temperature better reflects rectal temperature than does axillary temperature; tympanic temperature should therefore be measured when there are no contra-indications for its use.

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Keywords

Temperature, Fever, Tympanic, Rectal, Axillary

Citation

9. Abdulkadir, M.B., & Johnson,‘W.B.R. (2013): A comparative study of rectal, tympanic and axillary thermometry in febrile Nigerian children under five years of age. Paediatrics and International Child Health. 33(3);165-169.

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