ESRA Academy. Smith A. Sep 8, 2016; 138600; 0481 Topic: Safety of Regional Anaesthesia - Complications - General Aspects
Dr. Alex Smith
Dr. Alex Smith

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Background and Aims:

NICE guidance suggests that intra-operative hypothermia (<36.0°C) is associated with poor surgical outcomes. The aim of this study was to assess the incidence of hypothermia in patients undergoing upper limb surgical procedures using regional anaesthesia.  


Thirty-two adult hand surgery patients undergoing brachial plexus blockade were recruited and assessed at Leeds General Infirmary. Two trained assessors measured patients’ core temperature using a Welch Allyn Braun 6021 thermoscan tympanic thermometer. Measurements were taken before surgery in the anaesthetic room, at ten-minute intervals during surgery and in recovery. Data was recorded and analysed using Microsoft® Excel 2010 software.


(4/32) 12.5% of patients were found to be hypothermic (<36.0°C) during their procedure. The lowest body temperature recorded was 35.3°C. (10/32) 31.2% of patients were found to have a body temperature below the ‘comfortable’ range of 36.5-37.5°C, as defined by NICE. One patient was found to be hyperthermic at 38.3°C.


Approximately 1500 patients are treated annually with upper limb surgical procedures at Leeds General Infirmary. Extrapolation of the figures observed, suggest that more than 180 patients a year may experience hypothermia intra-operatively on the hand unit. In light of this, we recommend peri-operative temperature monitoring for upper limb surgical patients requiring regional anaesthesia.

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