oa Central African Journal of Medicine - Basis of thermal changes during anaethesia and surgery: a review

Volume 34, Issue 7
  • ISSN : 0008-9176



Normally the human body temperature is regulated at 37.0° ± 5°C by two neural mechanisms namely, behavioural and physiological. Anaesthetic agents, the anaesthetic state, surgical site and exposure and extremes of age, to varying degrees modify or abolish the influence of the two control mechanisms on temperature regulation. During anaesthesia and surgery, the tendency is for the body temperature to fall. This results from depression of mechanisms of heat conservation which may lead to hypothermia, (body core temperature below 35°C) and post anaesthetic recovery complicated by increased mobility. Preventive measures include, transporting infants to and from the operating theatre in adequately heated incubators; keeping the operating theatre temperature close to the average thermonatural range of most surgical patients; using overhead heating lamps at the beginning and termination of anaesthesia; placing the patient on a warming blanket; cleansing the surgical site with warm solutions; warming intravenous fluids and blood during administration; warming and humidifying anaesthetic gases before delivery to patients; and protecting the surgical site and exposed viscera from heat and water loss.

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