Effect of an electric blanket plus a forced-air warming system for children with postoperative hypothermia: A randomized controlled trial

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Abstract

Background:

Postoperative hypothermia in children in postanesthesia care unit (PACU) is a well-known serious complication as it increases the risk of blood loss, wound infections, and cardiac arrhythmias. We conducted this prospective randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effect of an electric blanket plus a forced-air warming system on rewarming in children with postoperative hypothermia.

Methods:

We recruited 346 children (aged < 3 years) who were admitted to a PACU after surgery and diagnosed with hypothermia between March and August 2016. They were randomly divided into 3 groups: group C (n = 108, rewarmed with only a regular blanket), group E (n = 123, rewarmed with a regular blanket plus an electric blanket), and group EF (n = 115, rewarmed with an electric blanket plus a forced-air warming system). From the beginning of rewarming, the rectal temperature was recorded every 5 minutes for the first half hour, then every 10 minutes up to when the patient left the PACU. The primary outcome was the rewarming time of children (from the beginning of rewarming to recovery of normothermia). The rewarming rate, increase in temperature (compared with the beginning of rewarming), hemodynamics, recovery time, and incidences of adverse effects were recorded.

Results:

There were no significant differences among the 3 groups in terms of the baseline clinical characteristics, use of narcotic drugs, intraoperative temperature, and hemodynamics (P > .05). Compared with the children in groups C and E, both the heart rate and mean arterial pressure of those in group EF were significantly increased after 10 minutes of arriving at the PACU (P < .05). Children in the EF group had the shortest rewarming time (35.61 ± 16.45 minutes, P < .001) and highest rewarming efficiency (0.028 ± 0.001 °C/min, P < .001), while there was no evidence of a difference in increased rectal temperature among the 3 groups. Children in the EF group had lower incidences of arrhythmia, shivering, nausea, and vomiting (P < .05).

Conclusion:

The combination of an electric blanket and a forced-air warming system was shown to be an effective rewarming method for children with postoperative hypothermia.

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