Protocol - Body Temperature - Tympanic Thermometers

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This protocol provides a description for obtaining body temperature by tympanic (i.e. ear) thermometers.

Specific Instructions:

The Sickle Cell Disease Cardiovascular, Pulmonary, and Renal Working Group recommends body temperature be obtained by either oral or tympanic (i.e. ear) measurements, and that once selected, the same body site be used over the course of a study. To aid comparability and accuracy, the Working Group also recommends the investigator record the make and manufacturer of the thermometer, and follow their guidelines regarding thermometer use, calibration, storage, and maintenance.


The following is a summary description for obtaining body temperature by tympanic (i.e. ear) measurement.

Tympanic Body Temperature:

• There are many different types of ear thermometers that are appropriate for this protocol. Investigators should follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for calibration and measurement.

• To decrease the likelihood of obtaining a falsely low reading, visually check the thermometer for dirt or damage before and after each use.

• If using alcohol wipes or wet cloths to clean the probe tip, exercise caution as these items can have a cooling effect.

• Place the thermometer probe into the ear canal according to the manufacturer guidelines.

Read the thermometer and record the temperature.

Normal Body Temperature:


Degrees Fahrenheit

Degrees Celsius


96.1 to 99.3

35.6 to 37.40

Protocol Name from Source:



Personnel and Training Required

Health care professionals trained in the operation of the selected thermometer.

Equipment Needs

Tympanic thermometer

Requirement CategoryRequired
Major equipment No
Specialized training No
Specialized requirements for biospecimen collection No
Average time of greater than 15 minutes in an unaffected individual No
Mode of Administration

Physical Measurement

Life Stage:

Infant, Toddler, Child, Adolescent, Adult, Senior, Pregnancy


All ages

Selection Rationale

The Sickle Cell Disease Cardiovascular, Pulmonary, and Renal Working Group selected an overall description of obtaining body temperature as the protocol because there are multiple body sites which are routinely used in clinical and research practices to obtain temperature. The selected description is comprehensive and provides details on how to use various thermometers, factors which affect accuracy, and the importance of user training.



Common Data Elements (CDE) Person Vital Signs Temperature Physical Examination Value 2644401 CDE Browser
Derived Variables


Process and Review

Not applicable.


Davie, A., and Amoore, J. (2010). Best practice in the measurement of body temperature. Nursing Standard. 24, 42, 42-49.

General References

McCallum, L., and Higgins, D. (2012). Measuring body temperature. Nursing Times; 108: 45, 20-22.

Knies, R.C. Section Editor. Temperature Measurement in Acute Care: The Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How? Research Applied to Clinical Practice. Emergency Nursing World enw.org/Research-Thermometry.htm

Protocol ID:


Export Variables
Variable Name Variable IDVariable DescriptiondbGaP Mapping
PX810101030000 If alcohol or wet wipes were used to clean more
the thermometer probe tip, was caution exercised when taking the reading? show less
PX810101010000 Was the thermometer calibrated and used more
under manufacturer's recommendations? show less
PX810101040000 Was the thermometer probe placed into the more
ear canal according to the manufacturer guidelines? show less
PX810101020000 Was the thermometer inspected for dirt or more
damage before and after use? show less
PX810101050000 What is the reading from the thermometer in more
Fahrenheit? show less
Blood Sciences Research
Measure Name:

Body Temperature

Release Date:

July 30, 2015


A measurement of the heat in an individual’s body, which is reported in either degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius.


Body temperature is associated with the presence or absence of various illnesses and infections and having an abnormal temperature can be an indication for additional medical testing.


Body temperature, fever, hyperthermia, clinical thermometry, thermometer, vital signs, infection, sickle cell disease, SCD