The Benefits of Administering Warm IV Fluids

Posted by Lauren Burke on

The Dangers of Perioperative Hypothermia

Published research indicates that maintaining perioperative normothermia is paramount in surgical patients. Hypothermia is directly correlated with:

  • Impaired wound healing
  • Cardiac events
  • Altered drug metabolism
  • Coagulopathies

Anesthesia impacts the body’s ability to regulate its core temperature leading to a significant drop in the unwarmed patient. General anesthetics can also trigger vasoconstriction which interferes with the way warm blood circulates throughout the body further reducing core temperatures. During the first hour under anesthesia, the patient's temperature drops anywhere from 1.0 to 1.6 degrees Celsius. A temperature of fewer than 36.5 degrees Celsius after vascular surgery is shown to increase norepinephrine levels, peripheral vasoconstriction and patient blood pressure.

Normothermia and Patient Satisfaction

Patient satisfaction is a major concern, as well. A 2006 study published in the AORN Journal found that maintaining normothermia reduces patient anxiety. A patient is more likely to provide a positive satisfaction score with pre-warming activities.

The use of warm IV fluids goes beyond the operating room, especially when it comes to patient satisfaction ratings. A 2013 study published in the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine found patient warming with intravenous fluids was a proactive way to improve patient comfort in an emergency room setting, as well. The study author separated ER patients into two groups giving one room temperature boluses and the other warmed IV fluids. The patients in the warming group reported improved comfort compared to that of the standard room temperature group.

Maintaining Normothermia

The American Society of Anesthesiologists’ sets standards for basic temperature monitoring because of the risk of perioperative hypothermia. Maintaining normothermia procedures include passive options such as using a heat and humidity exchanger. More aggressive active approaches offer the best success rate, however, such as the use of water mattress pads and blankets, forced-air warming systems and electric warmers.

There is a growing trend of warming IV fluids with either an inline warmer or a warming cabinet for more efficient normothermia maintenance. Evidence shows that patients given fluids to warm their veins as part of a comprehensive strategy to prevent perioperative hypothermia show a somewhat higher degree of temperature warming and less shivering than those given unwarmed fluids.

A 2010 randomized single-blinded study published Anesthesia found that the number of patients going into recovery with a body temperature of fewer than 36 degrees Celsius was lower in patients given fluid either through an in-line warmer or from bags kept in a warming cabinet.

The use of pre-warmed intravenous fluid is an economical way to improve patient outcomes and satisfaction scores. Visit our website at to learn more about fluid warming cabinets and ivNow, and the benefits of warming IV fluids.

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