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The Comparison of Two Recovery Room Warming Methods for Hypothermia Patients Who Had Undergone Spinal Surgery


CorrespondenceDr. Jun-Yu Fan, Department of Nursing, Chang-Gung University of Science and Technology, 261 Wen-Hwa 1st Road, Kwei-Shan, Tao-Yuan, Taiwan, R.O.C 333. E-mail:


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare the time needed to reach a specified temperature and the efficiency of two warming methods—warm cotton blankets and a radiant warmer—for hypothermia patients in a postanesthetic care unit (PACU) after spinal surgery.

Design: This study was conducted according to a quasi-experimental design. Data were collected from a medical referral center in northern Taiwan. A total of 130 post–spinal surgery patients with hypothermia were recruited in the study.

Methods: Of the 130 patients in the PACU, 65 were warmed by the radiant warmer (group R); whereas the other 65 patients were warmed by warm cotton blankets (group B). Tympanic temperature was measured for each patient every 10 min until it reached 36°C in the PACU. Analysis of covariance and generalized estimating equation regression analysis were performed to compare the time needed to reach a specified temperature and the efficiency of the two warming methods, respectively.

Findings: Both groups were similar in their baseline characteristics. After adjusting for temperature upon arrival at the PACU, group R needed a significantly shorter time for rewarming to 36°C than group B (F [1, 125]= 58.17, p < .001). The results of the generalized estimating equation also showed that the radiant warmer was more efficient than warm cotton blankets in increasing patients’ body temperatures to 36°C (χ2= 37.44, p < .001). None of the patients appeared to have wound infections, and there were no differences in the length of hospital stay or medical costs for current hospitalization in both groups.

Conclusions: Using the radiant warmer may be a more efficient method than providing warm cotton blankets for warming post–spinal surgery hypothermia patients in the PACU.

Clinical Relevance: For hospitals that are unable to use forced-air warming to warm postsurgical hypothermia patients in the PACU, the radiant warmer is a more efficient device to rewarm patients.

Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 2011; XX:X, XXX–XXX. ©2011 Sigma Theta Tau International.