A comparison of axillary with rectal thermometry in under 5 children
Background: Body temperature measurement is a crucial clinical assessment in the care of an acutely ill child, especially the under fives. Most temperature measurements in our hospital are done from the axilla.
Objective: To study the relationship between temperatures taken in the axilla with those taken in the rectum in febrile and afebrile children less than 5 years.
Materials and Methods: Rectal and axillary temperatures were taken concurrently in 400 febrile and 400 afebrile children aged less than 5 years using mercury-in-glass thermometers.
Result: The rectal temperature measurements ranged from 38.0 to 41.4°C and 36.4 to 37.9°C in the febrile and afebrile groups of children respectively while the axillary temperatures ranged from 36.7 to 41.0°C and 35.9 to 37.5°C in the febrile and afebrile groups of children, respectively. There were significant differences between the temperatures measured at the two sites in all the age groups studied. There was good positive correlation between the rectal and axillary temperatures. A linear relationship between axillary and rectal temperatures was derived using the simple regression analysis. The equation is: rectal temperature = 0.94×axillary temperature+2.92.
Conclusion: Although there’s good correlation between axillary and rectal temperatures, significant difference exits between them that cannot be explained by the addition of any single value or any particular equation.
Key words: Axillary, children, rectal, temperature, thermometry