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Perioperative hypothermia


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Dr. Stacy R. Armstrong, Animal Emergency and Critical Care Services of S. Fl., 9410 Stirling Road, Cooper City, FL 33024.


Objective: To review the pathophysiology and management of perioperative hypothermia in dogs and cats.

Data sources: Current veterinary and human literature regarding hypothermia was reviewed for this paper. Sources included but were not limited to the following: review articles, clinical trials, and experimental studies.

Summary: Perioperative hypothermia is a common, treatable complication of general anesthesia. Homeostatic derangements in thermoregulation from anesthesia and abnormal vasoconstriction can produce alterations in hepatic function, coagulation, cardiac function, renal function, humoral and cellular immunity, and wound healing.

Conclusion: Management of perioperative hypothermia includes passive and active surface rewarming along with active core rewarming. Measures to correct hypothermia will diminish the complications of altered mentation, immunity, cardiac function, and wound healing. Simple measures such as monitoring intraoperative temperature continuously, using circulating warm water blankets, forced air warming devices, and warm isotonic lavage fluids will aid in the correction of the hypothermic patient.