Measurement of Body Temperature

  • A. Sahib El-Radhi


The accuracy of body temperature measurement is particularly important in the following situations: fever in neutropenic children with cancer is frequently caused by bacterial infection, which is among the leading causes of death in these patients. Admission to hospital and administration of antibiotics are often based on the presence of fever alone. Children with sickle-cell anaemia are particularly susceptible to overwhelming bacterial infections, and detection of fever commonly has similar implications as with neutropenic febrile children. As epilepsy is defined by recurrent non-febrile seizures, the only outward difference between a febrile and an epileptic seizure at the onset of the seizure is the presence of fever in the febrile seizure. Since investigation, treatment and the prognosis of children with febrile seizure and epilepsy are different, measurement of body temperature is of paramount importance.

An ideal thermometer should accurately reflect core body temperature, be convenient and easy to use, give rapid results, not result in cross infection, not be influenced by ambient temperature, be cost-effective and finally possess high reproducibility. Despite advanced techniques, none of the temperature measurement devices meet all the above criteria. The chapter describes the best available thermometers that should be used in practice.

In neonates, body temperature is recommended to be measured in the axilla; in older children in the ear. There is a consensus that axillary temperature measurement is primarily useful in neonates. Rectal temperature measurement is not favoured by parents and nurses. This method is contraindicated in neutropenic oncology patients. The oral temperature measurement is not used in children less than 5 years of age, and this is the group with the highest incidence of fever. Ear measurement appears to be the most suitable. However, evidence confirming the accuracy of the infrared ear-based thermometer is incomplete.


Core temperature Ideal thermometers History of thermometers Evidence-based temperature measurement 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Sahib El-Radhi
    • 1
  1. 1.Chelsfield Park HospitalOrpingtonUK

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