Protocol - Body Temperature - Tympanic Thermometers

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Protocol Name from Source:

This section will be completed when reviewed by an Expert Review Panel.


Publicly available


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


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

Personnel and Training Required

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

Equipment Needs

Tympanic thermometer


Requirement CategoryRequired
Average time of greater than 15 minutes in an unaffected individualNo
Major equipmentNo
Specialized requirements for biospecimen collectionNo
Specialized trainingNo

Mode of Administration


Life Stage:

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

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.

Research Domain Information

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.

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 Value2644401CDE Browser

Process and Review

This section will be completed when reviewed by an Expert Review Panel.


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 NameVariable IDVariable DescriptionVersiondbGaP Mapping
PX810101_SCD_BodyTemperatureTympanic_CalibrationPX810101010000Was the thermometer calibrated and used under manufacturer's recommendations?4N/A
PX810101_SCD_BodyTemperatureTympanic_InspectionPX810101020000Was the thermometer inspected for dirt or damage before and after use?4N/A
PX810101_SCD_BodyTemperatureTympanic_Alcohol_WiptesPX810101030000If alcohol or wet wipes were used to clean the thermometer probe tip, was caution exercised when taking the reading?4N/A
PX810101_SCD_BodyTemperatureTympanic_ReadingPX810101050000What is the reading from the thermometer in Fahrenheit?4N/A
PX810101_SCD_BodyTemperatureTympanic_EarCanalPX810101040000Was the thermometer probe placed into the ear canal according to the manufacturer guidelines?4N/A