Hypothermia in the trauma patient

Injury. 2004 Jan;35(1):7-15. doi: 10.1016/s0020-1383(03)00309-7.


Hypothermia is a common finding in severely injured patients. Historically described as a consequence of wartime casualties where cold exposure was common, this topic has resurfaced in the trauma literature because of the increasing recognition of the morbidity and mortality associated with hypothermia. Hypothermia, along with acidosis and coagulopathy, has been identified as a component of the "lethal triad" in injured patients, and has been shown to contribute to increased mortality in these patients. Decreases in core temperature during the course of initial evaluation and resuscitation are common, and can contribute to poor outcomes in the injured patient. As induced hypothermia has been shown to be beneficial in some clinical situations, recent animal studies have attempted to investigate whether hypothermia in the trauma patient has any beneficial effects. This review examines the incidence and pathophysiology of hypothermia, and discusses mechanisms of heat loss and rewarming techniques that can be utilized in the trauma patient.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Hypothermia / etiology*
  • Hypothermia / physiopathology
  • Hypothermia / therapy
  • Intraoperative Care / methods
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications*
  • Wounds and Injuries / surgery