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Proceedings Paper

Tympanic thermometer performance validation by use of a body-temperature fixed point blackbody
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Paper Abstract

The use of infrared tympanic thermometers within the medical community (and more generically in the public domain) has recently grown rapidly, displacing more traditional forms of thermometry such as mercury-in-glass. Besides the obvious health concerns over mercury the increase in the use of tympanic thermometers is related to a number of factors such as their speed and relatively non-invasive method of operation. The calibration and testing of such devices is covered by a number of international standards (ASTM1, prEN2, JIS3) which specify the design of calibration blackbodies. However these calibration sources are impractical for day-to-day in-situ validation purposes. In addition several studies (e.g. Modell et al4, Craig et al5) have thrown doubt on the accuracy of tympanic thermometers in clinical use. With this in mind the NPL is developing a practical, portable and robust primary reference fixed point source for tympanic thermometer validation. The aim of this simple device is to give the clinician a rapid way of validating the performance of their tympanic thermometer, enabling the detection of mal-functioning thermometers and giving confidence in the measurement to the clinician (and patient!) at point of use. The reference fixed point operates at a temperature of 36.3 °C (97.3 °F) with a repeatability of approximately ± 20 mK. The fixed-point design has taken into consideration the optical characteristics of tympanic thermometers enabling wide-angled field of view devices to be successfully tested. The overall uncertainty of the device is estimated to be is less than 0.1°C. The paper gives a description of the fixed point, its design and construction as well as the results to date of validation tests.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 April 2003
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 5073, Thermosense XXV, (1 April 2003); doi: 10.1117/12.486027
Show Author Affiliations
Graham Machin, National Physical Lab. (United Kingdom)
Robert Simpson, National Physical Lab. (United Kingdom)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5073:
Thermosense XXV
K. Elliott Cramer; Xavier P. Maldague, Editor(s)

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