Twenty-five spinal cord-injured (SCI) males and 25 normal volunteers were studied for their scrotal and thigh temperatures by using contact liquid crystal thermography. The initial temperature was recorded after transfer and disrobing which took about 2 minutes. Later temperature was recorded 10 minutes after exposing the genitalia to room air (20-22 degrees C). The initial scrotal and thigh temperatures of SCI subjects were significantly higher than those of normal volunteers (32.8 +/- 0.8 degrees C v 31.6 +/- 0.4 degrees C; 32.9 +/- 0.8 degrees C v 31.7 +/- 0.4 degrees C, respectively, P < 0.001), although their rectal temperatures were not different. The scrotal and thigh hyperthermia of SCI subjects disappeared after 10 minutes of exposure to room air. There was no significant difference between scrotal and thigh temperatures in either the SCI subjects or the normal volunteers in the later temperature reading. Sitting in a wheelchair for 2 hours results in an increase of average 0.8 degrees C of scrotal and thigh temperature in five normal volunteers. Our study suggests that scrotal hyperthermia of SCI subjects is mainly the result of local factors such as a prolonged sitting position, adduction of the thighs, the cushion's insulating effect and infrequent movement of the buttocks. Adequate ventilation of the scrotal area can overcome the impaired scrotal heat dissipation of SCI subjects. Liquid crystal thermography is a useful, noninvasive method for detecting hyperthermia in SCI subjects.
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