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What is a Temporal Artery Thermometer?

By Lucinda Reynolds
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A temporal artery thermometer is a non-oral thermometer that can take the body temperature. It works by simply sliding the device across the forehead so it can measure the temperature of the blood flowing through the large temporal artery. This large artery is located between the skull and the skin of the forehead. The temporal artery thermometer has been proven to be the most accurate non-invasive form of measuring body temperature. The accuracy of this thermometer can be attributed to its use of the arterial heat balance method.

The arterial heat balance method is a complex mathematical equation that computes the temperature of the surrounding air with the temperature of the arterial blood flow. The forehead thermometer has built-in software that can do this computation multiple times per second. It takes the highest temperature reading from each computation and performs an average to arrive at an accurate body temperature.

This medical device is a great asset because it can quickly and easily obtain a core body temperature. It will not be affected by eating or drinking, like the oral thermometer can be. Parents no longer have to disrobe their child and hold them down to get a rectal temperature. The temporal artery thermometer can be used on all age groups without the risk of injury or discomfort.

It is important the temporal artery thermometer be used correctly to get an accurate temperature. Depress the button located on the back of the thermometer and place the head of the thermometer flush against the skin of the forehead just below the hairline. Slide the thermometer gently across the forehead and then touch it to the neck just behind the earlobe while keeping the button depressed. The button should be released after the thermometer has completed its path. The temperature reading obtained will show on the screen.

There are certain conditions that can affect the reading on a temporal artery thermometer. If an individual has a cold compress on the forehead the thermometer will give a false low reading. The forehead scan thermometer will also give a low reading if an individual is sweating profusely. The lens of the thermometer must be kept clean at all times for it to produce an accurate reading.

Temporal artery thermometers were once only used by hospitals and doctors' offices. Now these thermometers are available to the public in almost any drug store or department store. A fever is an important indicator of the flu or other types of illness. The temporal artery thermometer makes taking a temperature easy.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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