The impact of preoperative warming of ambulatory surgery patients on the prevention of postoperative hypothermia

Mary Jean Croft


Postoperative hypothermia is a continuing problem in surgical patients. Preoperative warming has been shown to benefit patients undergoing major surgical procedures but studies are lacking in patients in the ambulatory setting. Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore the effect of warming ambulatory surgical patients preoperatively prior to anesthesia induction and surgery on maintenance of core body temperature, prevention of hypothermia in PACU, and patient comfort. Method: A convenience sample of 96 adult patients undergoing ambulatory surgery was provided standard care (cotton bath blankets) (n=4 7) or pre-warming (Bair Paws® Flex warming gown) (n=49). All patients received forced air warming intraoperatively. Results: The mean pre-wanning time was 58.6 minutes. The intervention group mean temperatures were significantly improved (intervention mean 97.304 pre vs. 98.044 post; p = 0.002 vs. control mean 97.54 pre vs. 97.87 post; p = 0.063) upon discharge from the • preoperative holding area and prior to transport to the OR surgical suite. There was a 0.13 degree F increase in mean core temperature to PACU in the pre-warmed group as compared to control (intervention means 97.66 vs. control mean 97.53; 95% CI). The control group had a mean temperature decrease of 0.01 o F from preop temperature to PACU while the intervention groups' mean temperatures increased by 0.19° F. Seven patients in the control group arrived to P ACU complaining of cold and one shivering, compared to one patient in the intervention group. Conclusions: Preoperative warming utilizing the Bair Paws® flex warming gowns increased patients' core temperatures on arrival to PACU and lessened the number of patients arriving to PACU complaining of cold.