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Mild Hypothermia During Surgery Increases Blood Loss

Transfusion requirements also increased, according to results of meta-analysis

FRIDAY, Jan. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Patients whose body temperature during surgery drops even one degree less than normal experience more perioperative bleeding and are more likely to require blood transfusions than those whose body temperature stays in the normal range, researchers report in the January issue of Anesthesiology. Thus, maintaining normothermia during surgery should be a key priority.

Suman Rajagopalan, M.D., of the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials involving mild perioperative hypothermia to investigate the relationship between hypothermia and perioperative blood loss and transfusion requirements.

The researchers included 14 studies in the analysis of surgical bleeding, and 10 studies in the transfusion analysis. The median difference in temperature between normothermic and hypothermic patients was 0.85 degrees Celsius, and even this mild degree of hypothermia was associated with a 16 percent increase in blood loss and a 22 percent increase in the relative risk for transfusion.

In addition to the positive effect of normothermia on blood loss and transfusion requirement, "preventing hypothermia also decreases the risk of many other complications and is thus indicated for reasons other than reducing blood loss. The overall risk and cost-to-benefit ratio for maintaining normothermia is thus highly favorable," the authors conclude.

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