Thermal screening of facial skin arterial hot spots using non-contact infrared radiometry

Elizabeth Williams, Peter McCarthy, Andrew Heusch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Non-contact infrared thermometry of facial skin offers advantages over less accessible internal body sites, especially when considering mass screening for febrile infectious disease. The forehead offers an obvious site, but does not present an isothermic surface, as various small arteries passing close to the surface create 'hot-spots'. The aim of this study is to use non-contact infrared (IR) thermometry to determine the link between the temperature at specific facial skin sites and clinical body temperature. A sample of 169 asymptomatic adults (age range 18–54 years) was screened with IR thermometers (Braun Thermoscan proLT for auditory meatus (AM) temperature representing clinical body temperature, and a Raytek, Raynger MX for skin surface temperature). Peak IR skin temperature was measured over the course of each posterior auricular artery (PAA) and each superficial temporal artery (STA). In a sub-group (n = 54) the peak skin temperature of the forehead's metopic region (MR) was also recorded. There were no differences (P andgt; 0.05) between the PAA and STA at 34.2 ± 0.9 °C and 34.2 ± 0.7 °C, respectively, which were 2.5 °C cooler than the AM temperature (36.7 ± 0.5 °C, p andlt; 0.001). Although there was no correlation between AM and PAA or STA there was a correlation (r2 = 0.63, p andlt; 0.001) between PAA and STA. There were no asymmetric temperature differences between the left and right sides and males had warmer skin over the MR (F, 33.6 ± 0.7 °C versus M, 34.4 ± 0.6 °C, p andlt; 0.001). Although a lack of correlation between either PAA or STA and AM was apparent in asymptomatics, further research in symptomatics is required to determine the usefulness of these measurements in mass screening of conditions such as fever.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341 - 348
Number of pages7
JournalPhysiological Measurement
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2008


  • body temperature
  • temporal artery temperature
  • tympanic temperature
  • fever


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