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Can J Anaesth. 1997 Apr;44(4):433-8.

Comparison of distal oesophageal temperature with "deep" and tracheal temperatures.

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  • 1Department of Anaesthesia, Yamanashi Medical University, Japan.



To compare distal oesophageal (reference) temperature with "deep-sternal," "deep-forehead," and tracheal temperatures, establishing the accuracy and precision of each.


We studied 20 patients undergoing general anaesthesia for gynaecological surgery. Their lungs were mechanically ventilated with a circle system, at a fresh-gas flow rate of 6 L.min-1 Respiratory gases were not warmed or humidified. Tracheal temperatures were recorded from a Trachelon tube inserted approximately 21 cm. Deep-body temperatures were measured at the sternum and forehead using a Coretemp thermometer. The principle of the method is to null thermal flux through a cutaneous disk, thus obliterating thermal gradients between the sides of the disk, skin surface, and subcutaneous tissues. Distal oesophageal temperatures were measured from thermocouples incorporated into oesophageal stethoscopes. Tracheal and deep-tissue temperatures were compared with oesophageal temperature using regression and Bland and Altman analyses.


Tracheal, sternal, and forehead temperatures correlated similarly with distal oesophageal temperature, correlation coefficients (r2) being 0.7 in each case. The offset (oesophageal temperature minus study site) was considerably larger for tracheal temperature (0.7 degree C) than for the other sites (0.2 degree C). However, the precision was only 0.3 degree C at each site.


Our data suggest that tracheal temperatures may not be an adequate substitute for conventional core-temperature monitoring sites. In contrast, the accuracy and precision of deep-tissue temperature monitoring at the sternum and forehead was sufficient for clinical use.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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