A Key Factor in Patient Outcomes

Body temperature plays a key role in determining a patient’s outcome, so continuous core temperature monitoring is imperative in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Core temperature monitoring is considered the gold standard for patients under general anesthesia, especially in extensive operations or cases of regional anesthesia where patients are at risk for hypothermia.

Core temperature is considered an effective thermal indicator, as the temperature of different abdominal parts varies: Deep thoracic, abdominal temperatures tend to be cooler than the arms and legs, and skin temperature is impacted by the environment, the temperature of peripheral tissues, core temperature and more. In medical procedures, the core temperature is generally maintained within a range of ±0.5ºC of 37ºC.

Deviations from the normal body temperature range can be hazardous for any patient. Moreover, patients in the ICU, who may be critically ill or weak, bear a greater risk for these complications, and experience them with greater intensity and dire clinical implications. Even one or two degrees of hypothermia strongly increase the risk of surgical bleeding, surgical wound infection, and delayed recovery.

Core temperature monitoring serves to prevent hypothermia and overheating, and assists caregivers in the detection of malignant hyperthermia.  The most prevalent perioperative thermal hazard is inadvertent hypothermia. Under general anesthesia, hypothermia is caused by redistribution of body heat, reducing the core temperature by 0.5 to 1.5°C. Even mild hypothermia can cause adverse effects, from morbidity to sympathetic nervous system activation, surgical wound infection, increased allogeneic transfusions, and prolonged wound healing, post-anesthetic recovery and hospitalization. Furthermore, abnormally high temperatures may indicate a risk of seizures or brain damage, while abnormally low ones may indicate a risk for heart problems, hypoxia and increased risks of surgical complications such as infections.