Among the most venerable hospital tasks is taking the patient's daily temperature. The importance of this entrenched practice is so universally accepted that, like the mechanics of normal breathing, it is rarely discussed or even considered. It seems, however, that a pause for reflection is necessary. In a recent issue of the American Journal of the Diseases of Children, Wolfson presents the history of an 8-day-old infant with an intraperitoneal perforation of the anterior rectal wall caused by a thermometer.1 In this instance the perforation was discovered during a bariumenema examination, and, despite laparotomy and closure of the tear, the infant died.
The investigator reviews the subject of intraperitoneal perforation of the rectum, discusses methods for determining its presence, the danger of enema (including barium enema), and the necessity, if perforation occurs, for emergency laparotomy. Although intraperitoneal perforation of the rectum by thermometer appears to be exceptionally rare, injury