Use of noncontact infrared thermography to measure temperature in children in a triage room
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We compared the accuracy and utility of 3 infrared (IFR) thermographs fitted with axillary digital thermometers used to measure temperature in febrile and afebrile children admitted to an emergency triage room. A total of 184 febrile and 135 afebrile children presenting to a triage room were consecutively evaluated. Axillary temperature was recorded using a digital electronic thermometer. Simultaneously, IFR skin scans were performed on the forehead, the neck (over the carotid artery), and the nape by the same nurse. Fever was defined as an axillary temperature >= 37.5 degrees C. The temperature readings at the 4 sites were compared. For all subjects, the median axillary temperature was 37.7 +/- 1.5 degrees C, the IFR forehead temperature was 37 +/- 1.1 degrees C, the IFR neck temperature was 37.6 +/- 1.5 degrees C, and the IFR nape temperature was 37 +/- 1.2 degrees C. A Bland-Altman plot of the differences suggested that all agreements between IFR and axillary measures were poor (the latter measure was considered the standard). The forehead measurements had a sensitivity of 88.6% and a specificity of 60% in patients with temperatures >= 36.75 degrees C. The sensitivities of the neck measurement at cut-offs of >= 37.35 degrees C and >= 36.95 were 95.5% and 78.8% for those aged 2 to 6 years. Thus, 11.4% of febrile subjects were missed when forehead measurements were performed. An IFR scan over the lateral side of neck is a reliable, comfortable, rapid, and noninvasive method for fever screening, particularly in children aged 2 to 6 years, in busy settings such as pediatric triage rooms.