Perioperative complications of hypothermia

Best Pract Res Clin Anaesthesiol. 2008 Dec;22(4):645-57. doi: 10.1016/j.bpa.2008.07.005.


Perioperative hypothermia is a common and serious complication of anesthesia and surgery and is associated with many adverse perioperative outcomes. It prolongs the duration of action of inhaled and intravenous anesthetics as well as the duration of action of neuromuscular drugs. Mild core hypothermia increases thermal discomfort, and is associated with delayed post anaesthetic recovery. Mild hypothermia significantly increases perioperative blood loss and augments allogeneic transfusion requirement. Only 1.9 degrees C core hypothermia triples the incidence of surgical wound infection following colon resection and increases the duration of hospitalization by 20%. Hypothermia adversely affects antibody- and cell-mediated immune defences, as well as the oxygen availability in the peripheral wound tissues. Furthermore mild hypothermia triples the incidence of postoperative adverse myocardial events. Thus, even mild hypothermia contributes significantly to patient care costs and needs to be avoided.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia, General / adverse effects
  • Animals
  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia / etiology
  • Hypothermia / physiopathology*
  • Hypothermia / prevention & control
  • Perioperative Care / economics
  • Perioperative Care / methods*
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Postoperative Complications / physiopathology*
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Shivering / physiology
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative / adverse effects