Survey on intraoperative temperature management in Europe

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SummaryBackground and objectives:Inadvertent perioperative hypothermia causes serious morbidity in surgical patients. However, recent reports suggest that patients might still be hypothermic after elective surgery. We thus surveyed intraoperative temperature monitoring and management practices in Europe.Methods:Postal survey of 801 representative hospitals from 17 European countries on the same day. The questions addressed the number of surgical procedures and type of anaesthesia performed, mode and site of temperature monitoring and method of patient warming. Mean and standard error of the mean or count and percentage were calculated. The t-test or contingency table analysis with the Fisher's exact test were used.Results:Eight thousand and eighty-three surgical procedures were assessed from 316 responding hospitals (39.4%). Overall, patient temperature monitored in 19.4% and 38.5% of the patients were actively warmed. Under general anaesthesia, body temperature was monitored in 25% and during regional anaesthesia in 6%, P = 0.0005. Nasopharyngeal temperature was most often taken under general anaesthesia, while tympanic temperature was preferred during regional anaesthesia. Under general anaesthesia, 43% of patients were actively warmed as compared to 28% with regional anaesthesia, P = 0.0005. Forced-air warming was the method of choice for both general and regional anaesthesia.Conclusions:Intraoperative temperature monitoring is still uncommon and hence active patient warming is not a standard of care in Europe. Awareness of perioperative hypothermia is critical to its prevention, and thus temperature monitoring is a pre-requisite. The objective is to maintain normothermia in patients throughout surgery. A European practice guideline for perioperative patient temperature management is warranted.

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