The Optimal Time and Method for Surgical Prewarming: A Comprehensive Review of the Literature

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Inadvertent hypothermia is a common problem in the operating room. This can contribute to many unfavorable outcomes --rising costs, increased complications, and higher morbidity rates.


This review determined the optimal method and time to prewarm a surgical patient to prevent perioperative hypothermia.


CINAHL and PubMed were searched. Fourteen articles were ultimately included in this review.


Based on the literature reviewed, it was suggested that forced-air warming was most effective in preventing perioperative hypothermia. Eighty-one percent of the experimental studies reviewed found that there was a significantly higher temperature throughout surgery and in the postanesthesia care unit for patients who received forced-air prewarming.


Thirty minutes was found to be the average suggested amount of time for prewarming among the literature; however, a minimum of 10 minutes of prewarming was suggested to significantly reduce rates of hypothermia in perioperative patients and decrease the adverse effects of hypothermia.

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