Objectives: After cardiopulmonary bypass, patients often show redistribution hypothermia, also called afterdrop. Forced-air blankets help to reduce afterdrop. This study explores the effect of forced-air blankets on temperature distribution and peripheral perfusion. The blood perfusion data is used to explain the observed temperature effects and the reduction of the afterdrop. Methods: Fifteen patients were enrolled in a randomised study. In the test group (n=8), forced-air warmers were used. In the control group (n=7), only passive insulation was used. Core and skin temperatures and thigh temperatures at 0, 8, 18 and 38mm depth were measured. Laser Doppler flowmetry (LDF) was used to record skin perfusion from the big toe. Blood flow through the femoral artery was determined with ultrasound. Results: Afterdrop in the test group was smaller than in the control group (1.2+/-0.2 degrees C vs 1.8+/-0.7 degrees C: P=0.04) whilst no significant difference in mean tissue thigh temperature was found between the groups. Local skin temperature was 2.5-3.0 degrees C higher when using forced-air heaters. However, skin perfusion was unaffected. Ultrasound measurements revealed that leg blood flow during the first hours after surgery was reduced to approximately 70% of pre- and peri-operative values. Conclusions: Forced-air blankets reduce afterdrop. However, they do not lead to clinical relevant changes in deep thigh temperature. LDF measurements show that forced-air heating does not improve toe perfusion. The extra heat especially favours core temperature. This is underlined by the decrease in postoperative leg blood flow, suggesting that the majority of the warmed blood leaving the heart flows to core organs and not to the periphery.
Severens, N. M. W., van Marken Lichtenbelt, W. D., van Leeuwen, G. M. J., Frijns, A. J., van Steenhoven, A. A., de Mol, B. A., van Wezel, H. B. M., & Veldman, D. J. (2007). Effect of forced-air heaters on perfusion and temperature distribution during and after open-heart surgery. European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, 32(6), 888-895. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejcts.2007.09.004