Objectives: To evaluate whether the core–peripheral temperature gradient could be used to distinguish between cardiac and respiratory causes of dyspnoea.
Methods: In total, 50 patients were enrolled in the study, based on the following inclusion criteria: (a) a primary presenting complaint of dyspnoea; (b) age >40 years; (c) respiratory rate >20 breaths/min; (d) hypoxia. The tympanic temperature and the temperature of the nasal tip were recorded, and the patient’s discharge data and chest x ray results checked. Where there was discordance, arbitration was carried out by another researcher.
Results: Four patients were excluded, hence the final study sample was 46 patients. There was a statistically significant difference between the mean temperature gradients of the two study populations (p <0.001). A gradient of >8°C was able to rule in a cardiovascular cause (92% specificity) whereas one of <5°C could rule it out (100% sensitivity).
Conclusion: The test is safe, non-invasive and inexpensive. Although there were some limitations to the study, the test can still be commended as a useful adjunct to the emergency assessment of the acutely breathless patient.
- core peripheral temperature
- temperature gradient
Statistics from Altmetric.com
Competing interests: Tyco Healthcare provided a tympanic membrane thermometer and disposables for the duration of the study. No other funding was received.
We thank A Horrocks and R Sawyer for reviewing the chest radiographs of the patients in the study.
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.