Forced air surface rewarming in patients with severe accidental hypothermia

Resuscitation. 1999 Jul;41(2):105-11. doi: 10.1016/s0300-9572(99)00069-6.


Methods of rewarming patients with severe accidental hypothermia remain controversial. This paper reports our experience with the use of forced air rewarming in patients with severe accidental hypothermia and a body core temperature below 30 degrees C. Fifteen hypothermic patients (body core temperature 24-30 degrees C) were successfully treated with forced air rewarming to a body core temperature above 35 degrees C (mean rewarming rate 1.7 degrees C/h, range from 0.7 to 3.4 degrees C/h). An afterdrop phenomenon was not observed in any of the patients. Nine hypothermic patients (group 1) had no prehospital cardiac arrest, all nine were long-term survivors and made a full recovery. Six patients (group 2) had prehospital cardio circulatory arrest with restoration of spontaneous circulation. None of the group 2 patients survived long-term. Group 1 and group 2 patients did not differ in core temperature (26.6+/-1.6 degrees C group 1 and 27.0+/-1.8 degrees C group 2). Group 2 patients needed catecholamine support during rewarming more frequently (83 versus 22%) and had higher lactate levels and lower pH values at all points of observation. In conclusion our preliminary data indicate that forced air rewarming is an efficient and safe method of managing patients with severe accidental hypothermia. The poor outcome of patients with a history of prehospital cardiopulmonary resuscitation is probably due to irreversible ischaemic brain damage in primarily asphyxiated avalanche and near-drowning victims, rather than the consequence of the rewarming method used.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Body Temperature / physiology
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation / methods
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Arrest / complications
  • Heart Arrest / mortality
  • Heart Arrest / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia / complications
  • Hypothermia / mortality
  • Hypothermia / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reference Values
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rewarming / methods*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome