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Frontiers in Medicine 01 frontiersin.org Aggressive intraoperative warming and postoperative pulmonary complications in elderly patients recovering from esophageal cancer surgery: sub-analysis of a randomized trial

July 14, 2023

Background:
Elderly patients having esophagectomies often become hypothermic which may promote complications. We tested the hypothesis that aggressive warming to a core temperature of 37°C reduces postoperative pulmonary complications (PPCs) in elderly patients having esophageal cancer resections.
Methods:
This study was a pre-defined sub-study of a multi-center, parallel group, superiority trial (PROTECT). Patients aged >65 years and having elective radical resection of esophageal cancer in a single center were randomly allocated into either aggressive warming group (target intraoperative core temperatures of 37°C) or routine thermal management group (target intraoperative core temperatures of 35.5°C). The primary endpoint was the incidence of PPCs. Secondary endpoints included duration of chest tube drainage and other postoperative complications.
Results:
A total of 300 patients were included in the primary analysis. PPCs occurred in 27 (18%) of 150 patients in the aggressive warming group and 31 (21%) of 150 patients in the routine thermal management group. The relative risk (RR) of aggressive versus routine thermal management was 0.9 (95% CI: 0.5, 1.4; p=0.56). The duration of chest drainage in patients assigned to aggressive warming was shorter than that assigned to routine thermal management: 4 (3, 5) days vs. 5 (4, 7) days; hazard ratio (HR) 1.4 [95% CI: 1.1, 1.7]; p=0.001. Fewer aggressively warmed patients needed chest drainage for more than 5 days: 30/150 (20%) vs. 51/150 (34%); RR:0.6 (95% CI: 0.4, 0.9; p = 0.03). The incidence of other postoperative complications were similar between the two groups.
Conclusion:
Aggressive warming does not reduce the incidence of PPCs in elderly patients receiving esophagectomy. The duration of chest drainage was reduced by aggressive warming. But as a secondary analysis of a planned sub-group study, these results should be considered exploratory.
Clinical trial registration:
https://www.chictr.org.cn/showproj.aspx?proj=37099
ChiCTR1900022257.