Prevention of Perioperative Hypothermia: A Prospective, Randomized, Controlled Trial of Bair Hugger Versus Inditherm in Patients Undergoing Elective Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery

Arthroscopy. 2020 Feb;36(2):347-352. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2019.08.015. Epub 2019 Dec 31.


Purpose: To determine if a clinically significant difference in the core body temperature (CBT) exists between the Bair Hugger (BH) and Inditherm (IT) warming devices in patients undergoing arthroscopic shoulder surgery.

Methods: This was a parallel, 2-treatment, prospective, randomized, controlled trial conducted in patients undergoing elective arthroscopic shoulder surgery in the beach-chair position using room-temperature irrigation fluid. The BH was used as the indicative forced-air warming device, whereas the IT served as the indicative resistive heating system. By use of a minimal clinically significant difference of 0.6°C and standard deviation of 0.6°C, a power analysis showed that a sample size of 90 patients (45 per group) would be required. Patients fulfilling the inclusion criteria were recruited from the clinics of the senior authors. Anesthetic and surgical protocols were standardized. The intraoperative CBT was recorded every 5 minutes using a nasopharyngeal thermistor probe. Demographic data as well as the volume of irrigation fluid used were also noted.

Results: A steady decline in the CBT was observed in both groups up to 30 minutes after induction of anesthesia. Beyond 30 minutes, the BH group showed a gradual increase in temperature whereas it continued to decline in the IT group. A statistically significant difference in the CBT was observed from 60 minutes onward (P = .025). This difference continued to increase up to 90 minutes (P < .001). At no time was a rise in the CBT observed in the IT group. At completion of the study and surgical procedure, 13 of 47 patients in the BH group and 32 of 44 patients in the IT group had hypothermia (P = .0002).

Conclusions: The CBT was statistically significantly better with the use of the BH compared with the IT mattress. However, the differences in the CBT did not reach the level of clinical significance of 0.6°C. Far fewer patients in the BH group had hypothermia at the end of surgery. Therefore, this study supports the use of the BH in elective arthroscopic shoulder surgery for the prevention of hypothermia.

Level of evidence: Level I.