Tympanic monitoring for targeted temperature management

As the authors of this study point out, the reliability of tympanic temperature monitoring is still under debate. Since invasive measures of core temperature employed in the ICU may not be practicable in the pre-hospital setting, it would be helpful to employ a simpler method in the field, particular if we are implementing targeted temperature management post-cardiac arrest. In this small study of ten patients (with 558 temperature measurements) there was a high degree of correlation between tympanic and oesophageal temperature (r=0.95, p<0.0001, 95% CI 0.93 to 0.96) and also between tympanic and bladder temperature (r=0.96, p<0.0001, 95% CI 0.95 to 0.97). This finding is apparently in keeping with results obtained from patients undergoing cardiac surgery.

Objective Prehospital induction of therapeutic hypothermia after cardiac arrest may require temperature monitoring in the field. Tympanic temperature is non-invasive and frequently used in clinical practice. Nevertheless, it has not yet been evaluated in patients undergoing mild therapeutic hypothermia (MTH). Therefore, a prospective observational study was conducted comparing three different sites of temperature monitoring during therapeutic hypothermia.

Methods Ten consecutive patients admitted to our medical intensive care unit after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest were included in this study. During MTH, tympanic temperature was measured using a digital thermometer. Simultaneously, oesophageal and bladder temperatures were recorded in a total of 558 single measurements.

Results Compared with oesophageal temperature, bladder temperature had a bias of 0.019°C (limits of agreement ±0.61°C (2SD)), and tympanic measurement had a bias of 0.021°C (±0.80°C). Correlation analysis revealed a high relationship for tympanic versus oesophageal temperature (r=0.95, p<0.0001) and also for tympanic versus bladder temperature (r=0.96, p<0.0001).

Conclusions That tympanic temperature accurately indicates both oesophageal and bladder temperatures with a very small discrepancy in patients undergoing MTH after cardiac arrest is demonstrated in this study. Although our results were obtained in the hospital setting, these findings may be relevant for the prehospital application of therapeutic hypothermia as well. In this case, tympanic temperature may provide an easy and non-invasive method for temperature monitoring.

Tympanic temperature during therapeutic hypothermia
Emerg Med J. 2011 Jun;28(6):483-5