Prognostic value of infrared thermography in an emergency department

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Abstract

Objective

In this study, we aimed to investigate the prognostic potential of infrared thermography in a population of medical patients admitted to the emergency department. Central-to-peripheral temperature gradients were analyzed for association with 30-day mortality.

Methods

This prospective observational study included 198 medical patients admitted to the Emergency Department, at Odense University Hospital. A standardized thermal picture was taken and temperatures of the inner canthus, the earlobe, the nose tip, and the tip of the third finger were reported. The inner canthus was chosen as a marker for central temperature and the three others as markers for peripheral temperatures, resulting in three gradients per patient. Thirty-day follow-up was performed and 30-day mortality was reported.

Results

One hundred and ninety-eight patients were included and the number of events was nine. The gradient between the inner canthus and the nose tip (ΔN) and the gradient between the inner canthus and the fingertip (ΔF) showed a significant association with 30-day mortality (ΔN: odds ratio: 1.31; 95% confidence interval: 1.05–1.64 and ΔF: odds ratio: 1.27; 95% confidence interval: 1.02–1.57).

Conclusion

ΔN and ΔF showed a significant association with 30-day mortality, suggesting a prognostic value. However, this was a small pilot study with few events. Larger studies are warranted for confirmation of these findings.

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