Evaluation of the efficacy of a forced-air warmer (Bair Hugger) during spinal surgery in children

J Clin Anesth. 1994 Sep-Oct;6(5):425-9. doi: 10.1016/s0952-8180(05)80016-9.


Study objective: To evaluate the efficacy of a forced-air warmer during spinal surgery for correction of scoliosis in children.

Design: Prospective randomized study (group allocation based on the availability of the warming device).

Setting: Children's teaching hospital.

Patients: 51 ASA physical status I and II children (mean age, 15 years; mean weight, 45 kg) scheduled for posterior spinal fusion with general anesthesia.

Interventions: Study group (warmed; n = 26)--legs covered with the forced-air warmer (Bair Hugger, Augustine Medical, Inc., Eden Prairie, MN) after installation of the patient in prone position--versus control group (n = 25)--400W heat lamp placed over the head during surgery as is usually done in our institution.

Measurements and main results: Rectal temperature was taken every 15 minutes during surgery and during the first 2 hours in the recovery room. Time required for the wake-up test, time to extubation, and blood loss also were noted. Temperature profiles were very different in the 2 groups. In the control group, rectal temperature decreased during the first 180 minutes to a minimum of 34.8 degrees C +/- 0.6 degrees C, followed by a slow rewarming phase. In the warmed group, the lowest temperature (35.6 degrees C +/- 0.5 degrees C) was recorded 45 minutes after placement of the forced-air warmer, followed by an effective warming phase. At the end of surgery, temperature was significantly higher in the warmed group than in the control group (36.5 degrees C +/- 0.8 degrees C vs. 35.4 degrees C +/- 0.9 degrees C). However, time required for the wake-up test, time to extubation, and blood loss did not differ between groups.

Conclusion: The forced-air warmer (Bair Hugger) is effective during spinal surgery, although only about 20% of body surface area can be covered.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anesthesia Recovery Period
  • Bedding and Linens*
  • Blood Loss, Surgical
  • Body Surface Area
  • Body Temperature
  • Body Temperature Regulation*
  • Child
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Heating / instrumentation
  • Hot Temperature / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia / prevention & control*
  • Intraoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Intubation, Intratracheal
  • Prospective Studies
  • Scoliosis / surgery*
  • Spinal Fusion*
  • Time Factors