A review is presented of the published experimental and clinical research into the infection control hazards of using forced air-warming (FAW) in operating theatres to prevent inadvertent hypothermia. This evidence has been reviewed with emphasis on the use of ultra-clean ventilation, any interaction it has with different types of patient warming (and FAW in particular), and any related increased risk of surgical site infection (SSI). We conclude that FAW does contaminate ultra-clean air ventilation; however, there appears to be no definite link to an increased risk of SSI based on current research. Nevertheless, whereas this remains unproven, we recommend that surgeons should at least consider alternative patient-warming systems in areas where contamination of the operative field may be critical. Although this is not a systematic review of acceptable randomized controlled clinical trials, which do not exist, it does identify that there is a need for definitive research in this field.
Keywords: Forced-air warming; Perioperative hypothermia; Surgical site infection.
Copyright © 2014 The Healthcare Infection Society. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.