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Tympanic measurement of body temperature in stroke patients “turned on its ear”
  1. A J J Rampen,
  2. E J van Breda,
  3. D W J Dippel
  1. Department of Neurology, Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Eric J van Breda
 Department of Neurology, Erasmus Medical Centre, PO box 1738, 3000 DR Rotterdam, Netherlands;

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Body temperature is an important prognostic factor in acute stroke, and it is a marker of life threatening infections such as pneumonia.1 In clinical practice rectal temperature is regarded as a valid and reliable indicator of body temperature, but in the past 15 years tympanic infrared thermometers have been introduced into widespread clinical use. Tympanic temperature measurement is easier, faster, and less invasive than rectal measurement. However, concerns remain about the reliability and validity of this method.2

The product manual of the tympanic thermometer warns against overestimation of body temperature when the patient has been lying on one ear. Many stroke patients are hemiparalytic or hemiparetic and therefore may lie on one ear. The aim of our study was to investigate the error in tympanic temperature measurements in patients who have had a stroke and have been lying on one ear in this way.

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  • Competing interests: None declared