Comparison of temple temperatures with rectal temperatures in children under two years of age

George K. Siberry, Marie Diener-West, Elizabeth Schappell, Ruth A. Karron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


We assessed the agreement between rectal and noninvasive temporal artery temperature measurements in infants and children. We also evaluated the temple thermometer as a screening tool for rectal fever in this age group. Finally, we compared the performance of parents with that of nurses in using the temple thermometer. The 95% limits of agreement between the difference in rectal and average temple temperature were -1.03 and +1.52°C. Mean temple temperatures obtained by parents and by nurses were similar (95% limits of agreement, -0.6°C to +0.7°C). A maximum temple temperature cutoff of 37.2°C (99.0°F) distinguished children with rectal fever of ≥38.0°C with 91% sensitivity and 53% specificity. A cutoff of 37.8°C (100.0°F) distinguished moderate rectal fevers (≥38.5°C) with 97% sensitivity and 84% specificity. A cutoff of 38.3°C (101.0°F) distinguished a high rectal fever (≥39.0°C) with a sensitivity of 95% and specificity of 95%. In conclusion, temple temperatures do not reliably predict rectal temperatures, but the temple thermometer can be used as an effective screen for clinically important rectal fever in children 3-24 months old. The findings do not support use of temple temperatures to screen young infants for rectal fever ≥38.0°C. Temperatures obtained by parents were comparable to those obtained by nurses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-414
Number of pages10
JournalClinical pediatrics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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