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  Thyroid Science 4(3):CLS1-9, 2009

Axillary Electronic and
Galinstan Thermometer Measurements:
A Comparison of Their Consistency

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John C. Lowe*

Director of Research, Fibromyalgia Research Foundation


Abstract. Broda Barnes’ publications have influenced many clinicians to use the basal body temperature in diagnosing hypothyroidism and determining patients’ dosages of thyroid hormone. Barnes recommended that patients use inexpensive and reliable portable mercury-in-glass thermometers. These are no longer available, so many clinicians now recommend that patients use either electronic thermometers or Galinstan-in-glass thermometers that are mercury-free. Researchers have compared the temperature readings of mercury thermometers with both those of electronic and Galinstan thermometers. However, no studies could be found in which measurements with electronic thermometers were compared to those of Galinstan instruments. The purpose of this study was to compare measurements with these two types of thermometers. Methods: To avoid variations between subjects and anatomical sites, measurements were taken by one subject using the left axilla. The subject took 10 measurements simultaneously with an electronic and a Galinstan thermometer. Two electronic thermometers (E-1 and E-2) were compared separately with two Galinstan thermometers (G-1 and G-2) so that four sets of 10 paired measurements were taken. Results: The correlation between measurements with the four pairings of electronic and Galinstan thermometers was strong and statistically significant (E-1 & G-1, r = 0.985 ± 0.674 vs 0.638, p < 0.0001. E-1 & G-2, r = 0.945 ± 0.302 vs 0.272, p < 0.0001. E-2 & G-1, r = 0.980 ± 0.587 vs 0.627, p < 0.0001. E-2 & G-2, r = 0.976 ± 0.671 vs 0.529, p < 0.0001.). Also, differences between mean measurements using pairs of thermometers were not statistically significant (E-1 & G-1, 97.266 ± 0.674°F vs 97.190 ± 0.638°F, p = 0.798. E-1 & G-2, 97.327 ± 0.302°F vs 97.193 ± 0.272°F, p = 0.309. E-2 & G-1, 97.016 ± 0.587°F vs 97.107 ± 0.627°F, p = 0.743. E-2 & G-2, 96.638 ± 0.671°F vs 96.841 ± 0.529°F, p = 0.462. For metric values, see Table 1). Conclusion: Readings using electronic and Galinstan thermometers from the same axilla of one subject were consistent enough to be of reliable clinical use.

Keywords Analog thermometer • Axillary temperature • Digital thermometer • Electronic thermometer • Galinstan thermometer • Mercury thermometer

Lowe, J.C.: Axillary electronic and Galinstan thermometer measurements: a comparison of their consistency. Thyroid Science, 4(3):CLS1-9, 2009.

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© 2009 Thyroid Science