If you are reading about Stockert 3T Heater Cooler lawsuit litigation, you may be wondering why the devices are used and how they help control body temperature changes during surgery. When you are fatigued or sleepy, you probably feel a chill easier than when you are well rested. It’s kind of the same when you are anesthetized. When regional anesthesia is used, the nerves are provided from sending the signal, but general anesthesia prevents your brain from reading pain signals being sent by the nerves surrounding the surgical site.
But anesthesia can also affect the body’s ability to “remember” to breathe, so most patients who receive deep anesthesia also receive mechanical breathing assistance. The drug, as well as exposed skin, an open body cavity, a cold operating theater and IV fluids and irrigation fluids being room temperature, can increase the risk of the patient suffering unintended hypothermia.
Patients whose core body temperature falls have an increased risk of cardiac problems and injury. Hypothermia also causes the blood vessels to restrict which can slow healing and increase the risk of wound infection. It can decrease platelet activity in the blood increasing the likelihood of bleeding and reduces metabolism while at the same time increases stress hormones and raising blood pressure.
Because of all this, and the fact that some 25 million people in the country have increased risk factors for heart disease, it is highly important that a patient’s core body temperature is maintained during the procedure and after.
As a case in point, researchers published a release of a study in Science Daily that found that patients whose body temperature was normalized during and after a procedure had a 55 percent reduction in the risk of cardiac complications. Researchers studied 300 patients who had chest, abdominal, or vascular surgery, and of the 158 patients whose temperature was not maintained during surgery, 6.3 experienced heart attack, unstable angina, and cardiac arrest, while only 1.4 percent of the patients whose temperature was maintained suffered these adverse events.
To maintain body temperature, surgeons may use one or more of a variety of methods including warming blankets and warmed IV fluids and irrigation fluids. In fact, some evidence has pointed to this combination as one of the more effective methods of patient temperature maintenance. In fact, though IV fluids are routinely warmed, is common for a patient to be draped with little more than a paper or cotton blanket.
Warming blankets are lined with tubes in which warmed or cooled air circulates, helping maintain the appropriate temperature. The lines are fed by a heater-cooler device. These devices have been linked to serious bacterial infections in patients who undergo open-chest or open abdominal procedures, and most patients are unaware they were infected until they get tested.
Other warming methods include raising the temperature of the surgery room to at about 75 degrees Fahrenheit, using warmed and humidified inspiration gasses or a close circuit anesthetic gas delivery system. New warming mattresses are more efficient than older models at regulating pediatric temperatures. Overhead radiant heaters are also used with success, as are IV blood and fluid rewarmers, as mentioned above. Before having surgery, discuss with your surgeon how they intend to maintain your body temperature and reduce your risk of cardiac complications.