Perioperative hypothermia (PH), usually defined as a temperature of less than 36.0°C during the perioperative period, can result from anesthesia-induced thermoregulatory inhibition combined with exposure to a cold operating room environment and is estimated to occur in 50% to 70% of patients undergoing anesthesia and major surgery [
]. Almost all anesthetics, including opioids, propofol, inhalational agents, and spinal/epidural anesthetics, have been shown to impair thermoregulatory mechanisms through their effects on the brain/hypothalamus, impairment of peripheral vasoconstriction, and the shivering response. As a result, patients (particularly the very young and the elderly) exposed to these agents become poikilothermic and body temperature decreases to less than 36.0°C in a cool operating room environment [
- Forstot R.M.
The etiology and management of inadvertent perioperative hypothermia.
J Clin Anesth. 1995; 7: 657-674
]. Return to normothermia often requires several hours, which in turn increases exposure to PH (and its attendant morbidities) beyond the immediate intraoperative period.
- Frank S.M.
- Beattie C.
- Christopherson R.
- et al.
Epidural versus general anesthesia, ambient operating room temperature, and patient age as predictors of inadvertent hypothermia.
Anesthesiology. 1992; 77: 252-257
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