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Ian Mutchnick, Meena Thatikunta, Julianne Braun, Martha Bohn, Barbara Polivka, Michael W. Daniels, Rachel Vickers-Smith, William Gump and Thomas Moriarty

OBJECTIVE

Perioperative hypothermia (PH) is a preventable, pathological, and iatrogenic state that has been shown to result in increased surgical blood loss, increased surgical site infections, increased hospital length of stay, and patient discomfort. Maintenance of normothermia is recommended by multiple surgical quality organizations; however, no group yet provides an ergonomic, evidence-based protocol to reduce PH for pediatric neurosurgery patients. The authors’ aim was to evaluate the efficacy of a PH prevention protocol in the pediatric neurosurgery population.

METHODS

A prospective, nonrandomized study of 120 pediatric neurosurgery patients was performed. Thirty-eight patients received targeted warming interventions throughout their perioperative phases of care (warming group—WG). The remaining 82 patients received no extra warming care during their perioperative period (control group—CG). Patients were well matched for age, sex, and preparation time intraoperatively. Hypothermia was defined as < 36°C. The primary outcome of the study was maintenance of normothermia preoperatively, intraoperatively, and postoperatively.

RESULTS

WG patients were significantly warmer on arrival to the operating room (OR) and were 60% less likely to develop PH (p < 0.001). Preoperative forced air warmer use both reduced the risk of PH at time 0 intraoperatively and significantly reduced the risk of any PH intraoperatively (p < 0.001). All patients, regardless of group, experienced a drop in core temperature until a nadir occurred at 30 minutes intraoperatively for the WG and 45 minutes for the CG. At every time interval, from preoperatively to 120 minutes intraoperatively, CG patients were between 2 and 3 times more likely to experience PH (p < 0.001). All patients were warm on arrival to the postanesthesia care unit regardless of patient group.

CONCLUSIONS

Preoperative forced air warmer use significantly increases the average intraoperative time 0 temperature, helping to prevent a fall into PH at the intraoperative nadir. Intraoperatively, a strictly and consistently applied warming protocol made intraoperative hypothermia significantly less likely as well as less severe when it did occur. Implementation of a warming protocol necessitated only limited resources and an OR culture change, and was well tolerated by OR staff.