Biomedical Engineering Letters

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 3–17 | Cite as

Thermometry and interpretation of body temperature

  • Wenxi ChenEmail author
Review Article


This article reviews the historical development and up-to-date state of thermometric technologies for measuring human body temperature (BT) from two aspects: measurement methodology and significance interpretation. Since the first systematic and comprehensive study on BT and its relation to human diseases was conducted by Wunderlich in the late 19th century, BT has served as one of the most fundamental vital signs for clinical diagnosis and daily healthcare. The physiological implication of BT set point and thermoregulatory mechanisms are briefly outlined. Influential determinants of BT measurement are investigated thoroughly. Three types of BT measurement, i.e., core body temperature, surface body temperature and basal body temperature, are categorized according to its measurement position and activity level. With the comparison of temperature measurement in industrial fields, specialties in technological and biological aspects in BT measurement are mentioned. Methodologies used in BT measurement are grouped into instrumental methods and mathematical methods. Instrumental methods utilize results of BT measurements directly from temperature-sensitive transducers and electronic instrumentations by the combination of actual and predictive measurement, invasive and noninvasive measurement. Mathematical methods use several numerical models, such as multiple regression model, autoregressive model, thermoregulatory mechanism-based model and the Kalman filter-based method to estimate BT indirectly from some relevant vital signs and environmental factors. Thermometry modalities are summarized on the dichotomies into invasive and noninvasive, contact and noncontact, direct and indirect, free and restrained, 1-D and n-D. Comprehensive interpretation of BT has an equal importance as the measurement of BT. Two modes to apply BT are classified into real-time applications and long-term applications. With rapid advancement in IoT infrastructure, big data analytics and AI platforms, prospects for future development in thermometry and interpretation of BT are discussed.


Body temperature Thermometry Thermometer Body temperature measurement Body temperature interpretation Body temperature analysis 



This study was supported in part by the Competitive Research Fund 2018-P-14 of the University of Aizu.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by the author.


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Copyright information

© Korean Society of Medical and Biological Engineering 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biomedical Information Technology Laboratory, Research Center for Advanced Information Science and TechnologyThe University of AizuAizu-Wakamatsu, FukushimaJapan

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