Comparison between esophageal and intestinal temperature responses to upper-limb exercise in individuals with spinal cord injury

Objective: Individuals with spinal cord injuries (SCI) may present with impaired sympathetic control over thermoregulatory responses to environmental and exercise stressors, which can impact regional core temperature (Tcore) measurement. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether regional differences in Tcore responses exist during exercise in individuals with SCI. Setting: Rehabilitation centre in Wakayama, Japan. Methods: We recruited 12 men with motor-complete SCI (7 tetraplegia, 5 paraplegia) and 5 able-bodied controls to complete a 30-minute bout of arm-cycling exercise at 50% V̇ O2peak. Tcore was estimated using telemetric pills (intestinal temperature; Tint) and esophageal probes (Teso). Heat storage was calculated from baseline to 15 and 30 minutes of exercise. Results: At 15 minutes of exercise, elevations in Teso (Δ0.39±0.22°C; P<0.05), but not Tint (Δ0.04±0.18°C; P=0.09), were observed in able-bodied men. At 30 minutes of exercise, men with paraplegia and able-bodied men both exhibited increases in Teso (paraplegia: Δ0.56±0.30°C, P<0.05; able-bodied men: Δ0.60±0.31°C, P<0.05) and Tint (paraplegia: Δ0.38±0.33°C, P<0.05; able-bodied men: Δ0.30±0.30°C, P<0.05). Teso began rising 7.2 min earlier than Tint (pooled, P<0.01). Heat storage estimated by Teso was greater than heat storage estimated by Tint at 15 minutes (P=0.02) and 30 minutes (P=0.03) in men with paraplegia. No elevations in Teso, Tint, or heat storage were observed in men with tetraplegia. Conclusions: While not interchangeable, both Teso and Tint are sensitive to elevations in Tcore during arm-cycling exercise in men with paraplegia, although Teso may have superior sensitivity to capture temperature information earlier during exercise.