The use of a rectal thermometer may be associated with a number of acute complications.



perforation, especially in neonates and infants

distance from anus to peritoneum overlying rectosigmoid colon is less than 3 cm in newborn infants

anorectal mucosal tear

traumatic insertion

breakage or shattering

risk of bowel damage and bleeding; need to retrieve all pieces

leakage of elemental mercury from broken thermometer

retrieval of a full and intact bulb may indicate minimal loss

antegrade movement with loss of contact

need to retrieve; smooth surface and length may complicate removal



• Most modern thermometers use a red fluid (dibutyl phthalate). However, many homes still have mercury thermometers.


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