Author(s): Lenhardt R
Anaesthesia alters normal thermoregulatory control of the body, usually leading to perioperative hypothermia. Hypothermia is associated with a large number of serious complications. To assess perianaesthetic hypothermia, core temperature should be monitored vigorously. Pulmonary artery, tympanic membrane, distal oesophageal or nasopharyngeal temperatures reflect core temperature reliably. Core temperatures can be often estimated with reasonable accuracy using oral, axillary and bladder temperatures, except during extreme thermal perturbations. The body site for measurements should be chosen according to the surgical procedure. Unless hypothermia is specifically indicated, efforts should be made to maintain intraoperative core temperatures above 36 degrees C. Forced air is the most effective, commonly available, non-invasive warming method. Resistive heating electrical blankets and circulating water garment systems are an equally effective alternative. Intravenous fluid warming is also helpful when large volumes are required. In some patients, induction of mild therapeutic hypothermia may become an issue for the future. Recent studies indicate that patients suffering from neurological disease may profit from rapid core cooling.