Home E-Weekly May 2, 2017

Which Are Better: Underbody or Overbody Warming Blankets?

Published: May 1, 2017

OVER OR UNDER? Researchers found that 9% of patients who were warmed with underbody-type warming blankets had hypothermia, compared with 14% who were warmed with over-the-body forced-air warming blankets.

Patients using underbody forced-air warming blankets are less likely to arrive in PACU hypothermic compared with patients who are warmed with more conventional forced-air warming blankets, say researchers from Tohoku University School of Medicine in Sendai, Japan.

The researchers, who detailed their findings in an abstract for the American Society of Anesthesiologists' annual meeting, say it's a matter of underbody warmers covering more surface area.

The study involves more than 5,400 patients who underwent surgery, and had their body temperature measured intraoperatively, between April 2014 and November 2015. The researchers sorted these patients into 2 groups — those who used the underbody-type forced-air blanket and those who used over-the-body forced-air warmers — and compared changes in body temperature before and after surgery. They also measured the incidence of post-operative hypothermia, defined as a body temperature of less than 36°C.

Here's what they found: 37 patients (9%) in the group using the underbody warming blankets had hypothermia, compared with 59 patients (14%) in the control group; and post-operative body temperature in the group using underbody warming blankets was significantly higher than that of the control group.

Researchers also found a significant difference in patients' body temperature throughout the surgery. The "under" group's body temperature at the end of surgery was significantly higher than the body temperature at the start of surgery (37.1°C ± 1.7°C vs. 36.6°C ± 1.3°C). By comparison, the control group's body temperature at the end of the surgery did not increase significantly (36.3°C ± 2.6°C vs. 36.2°C ± 2.6°C).

Bill Donahue

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