Safety of intraoperative hypothermia for patients: meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials and observational studies

BMC Anesthesiol. 2020 Aug 15;20(1):202. doi: 10.1186/s12871-020-01065-z.


Background: Previous studies have shown that intraoperative hypothermia was associated with higher risks of clinical adverse events, but we found otherwise from recent evidences. This study aims to synthesize the existing evidence evaluating safety of intraoperative hypothermia.

Methods: Articles, reviews, ongoing trials and grey literatures were retrieved from PubMed, The Cochrane Library, Clinical Trails and CNKI (a Chinese national database) till February 2nd, 2019. Both randomized controlled trials and observational studies compared incidences of all sorts of intra- and post-operative consequences between hypothermia and normothermia were included. Researches comparing different warming systems were excluded. We also examined risks of hypothermia using lowered standards (35.5 °C and 35 °C) from a Chinese trial (ChiCTR-IPR-17011099).

Results: A total of 9 RCT studies and 11 observational studies were included. RCT-synthesized results showed that intraoperative hypothermia was associated with higher risks of bleeding (MD = 131.90, 95%CI: 117.42, 146.38), surgical site infection (RD = 0.14, 95%CI: 0.06, 0.21) and shivering (RD = 0.32, 95%CI: 0.06, 0.58) but with no significant differences in duration of surgery, hospital stay or mortality. Observational study-synthesized evidences showed that intraoperative hypothermia did not result in higher risks in any of these adverse events. Results didn't change even if the standard of hypothermia was lowered by 0.5-1.0 °C.

Conclusions: The study indicates that the synthesized risks resulted by intra-operative hypothermia might be overestimated and the eligibility of 36 °C to define hypothermia is not sensitive enough. Given body-temperature protection has not been popularized in China, it is still critical to normalize the hypothermia prevention at this stage.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Hemorrhage / epidemiology
  • Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Hemorrhage / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia / complications
  • Hypothermia / epidemiology*
  • Hypothermia / physiopathology
  • Intraoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Intraoperative Complications / physiopathology
  • Observational Studies as Topic / methods*
  • Observational Studies as Topic / standards
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / methods*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / standards
  • Shivering / physiology
  • Surgical Wound Infection / epidemiology
  • Surgical Wound Infection / etiology
  • Surgical Wound Infection / physiopathology