Temperature during surgery affects outcome

December 2007

CLEVELAND, Dec. 24 (UPI) -- Warming patients during surgery may lower risks and quicken recovery time, U.S. anesthesiologists suggest.

The study, published in the January issue of Anesthesiology, finds even small decreases in body temperature during surgery increases blood loss significantly.

Dr. Daniel I. Sessler of the Cleveland Clinic, the lead author, explains all anesthetics interfere with the systems that naturally regulate body temperature. Consequently, body temperature decreases in surgical patients who are not actively warmed. Hypothermia -- decreased body temperature -- has long been known to increase the risk of heart attacks adverse myocardial events and infection, and to prolong recovery from surgery.

"When all the studies were evaluated together, the results clearly show that even very mild hypothermia increases blood loss and transfusion requirements by clinically important amounts," Sessler says in a statement.

Anesthesiologists are able to control temperature easily, at low cost, and with virtually no risk to patients, but there are instances in which induced hypothermia is necessary, Sessler says.