Treatment of mild immersion hypothermia by direct body-to-body contact

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1994 Jun;76(6):2373-9. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1994.76.6.2373.


Body-to-body contact is often recommended for rewarming mildly hypothermic victims in the field. This procedure involves a euthermic individual donating heat to the recipient by direct contact in an insulated bag. However, this technique has not been critically evaluated and may not be beneficial because there is limited direct contact between recipient and donor, peripheral vasoconstriction may impair heat transfer to the core, skin warming may blunt the recipient's shivering response, and cold stress to the donor may be excessive. The present study was designed to evaluate whether donation of heat by a donor would be sufficient to enhance rewarming of a hypothermic subject (recipient). Six pairs of recipients (5 men, 1 woman) and donors (2 men, 4 women) participated in the study. Esophageal and skin temperatures, cutaneous heat flux, and oxygen consumption were measured. Recipients were immersed in 8 degrees C water until esophageal temperature decreased to a mean of 34.6 +/- 0.7 degrees C (SD). They then were rewarmed by one of three methods: rewarming by the endogenous heat generated by shivering only (SH), body-to-body rewarming (BB), or rewarming with a constant-heat source manikin (MAN). Mean afterdrop for the three conditions was 0.54 +/- 0.2, 0.54 +/- 0.2, and 0.57 +/- 0.2 degrees C for SH, BB, and MAN, respectively (NS), and the rate of rewarming was 2.40 +/- 0.8, 2.46 +/- 1.1 and 2.55 +/- 0.9 degrees C/h for SH, BB, and MAN, respectively (NS).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology
  • Esophagus / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia / therapy*
  • Immersion / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Manikins
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Rewarming*
  • Shivering / physiology
  • Skin Temperature / physiology