Temperature monitoring and perioperative thermoregulation

Anesthesiology. 2008 Aug;109(2):318-38. doi: 10.1097/ALN.0b013e31817f6d76.


Most clinically available thermometers accurately report the temperature of whatever tissue is being measured. The difficulty is that no reliably core-temperature-measuring sites are completely noninvasive and easy to use-especially in patients not undergoing general anesthesia. Nonetheless, temperature can be reliably measured in most patients. Body temperature should be measured in patients undergoing general anesthesia exceeding 30 min in duration and in patients undergoing major operations during neuraxial anesthesia. Core body temperature is normally tightly regulated. All general anesthetics produce a profound dose-dependent reduction in the core temperature, triggering cold defenses, including arteriovenous shunt vasoconstriction and shivering. Anesthetic-induced impairment of normal thermoregulatory control, with the resulting core-to-peripheral redistribution of body heat, is the primary cause of hypothermia in most patients. Neuraxial anesthesia also impairs thermoregulatory control, although to a lesser extent than does general anesthesia. Prolonged epidural analgesia is associated with hyperthermia whose cause remains unknown.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia, General*
  • Body Temperature Regulation / drug effects
  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology*
  • Body Temperature*
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia / etiology*
  • Monitoring, Intraoperative / methods*
  • Shivering / physiology*
  • Skin Temperature*
  • Sweating / physiology*