Purpose: Infrared thermometers are increasingly used as a convenient, non-invasive assessment method for febrile children. However, the diagnostic accuracy of the infrared thermometer for children has been questioned, particularly in relation to sensitivity and specificity. The aim of this study was to evaluate diagnostic accuracy of infrared thermometers in febrile children. Methods: Articles published between 1966 and 2012 from periodicals indexed in the Ovid Medline, Embase, CINAHL, Cochrane, KoreaMed, NDSL, KERIS and other databases were selected, using the following keywords: 'infrared thermometer'. The QUADAS-II was applied to assess the internal validity of the diagnostic studies. Selected studies were analyzed using meta-analysis with MetaDisc 1.4. Results: Nineteen diagnostic studies with high methodological quality, involving 4,304 children, were included. The results of meta-analysis showed that the pooled sensitivity, specificity and AUC (Area Under the Curve) of infrared tympanic thermometers in children over 1 year were 0.80 (95% CI 0.78, 0.81), 0.94 (95% CI 0.93, 0.95) and 0.95 respectively. However the diagnostic accuracy of infrared tympanic thermometers in children with hyperthermia was low. Conclusion: The diagnostic accuracy of infrared tympanic thermometer was similar to axillary and rectal thermometers indicating a need for further research to substantiate these findings in children with hyperthermia.
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