Effects of a Circulating-water Garment and Forced-air Warming on Body Heat Content and Core Temperature

Akiko Taguchi, Jebadurai Ratnaraj, Barbara Kabon, Neeru Sharma, Rainer Lenhardt, Daniel I. Sessler, Andrea Kurz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Background: Forced-air warming is sometimes unable to maintain perioperative normothermia. Therefore, the authors compared heat transfer, regional heat distribution, and core rewarming of forced-air warming with a novel circulating-water garment. Methods: Nine volunteers were each evaluated on two randomly ordered study days. They were anesthetized and cooled to a core temperature near 34°C. The volunteers were subsequently warmed for 2.5 h with either a circulating-water garment or a forced-air cover. Overall, heat balance was determined from the difference between cutaneous heat loss (thermal flux transducers) and metabolic heat production (oxygen consumption). Average arm and leg (peripheral) tissue temperatures were determined from 18 intramuscular needle thermocouples, 15 skin thermal flux transducers, and "deep" hand and foot thermometers. Results: Heat production (approximately 60 kcal/h) and loss (approximately 45 kcal/h) were similar with each treatment before warming. The increases in heat transfer across anterior portions of the skin surface were similar with each warming system (approximately 65 kcal/h). Forced-air warming had no effect on posterior heat transfer, whereas circulating-water transferred 21 ± 9 kcal/h through the posterior skin surface after a half hour of warming. Over 2.5 h, circulating water thus increased body heat content 56% more than forced air. Core temperatures thus increased faster than with circulating water than forced air, especially during the first hour, with the result that core temperature was 1.1° ± 0.7°C greater after 2.5 h (P < 0.001). Peripheral tissue heat content increased twice as much as core heat content with each device, but the core-to-peripheral tissue temperature gradient remained positive throughout the study. Conclusions: The circulating-water system transferred more heat than forced air, with the difference resulting largely from posterior heating. Circulating water rewarmed patients 0.4°C/h faster than forced air. A substantial peripheral-to-core tissue temperature gradient with each device indicated that peripheral tissues insulated the core, thus slowing heat transfer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1058-1064
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2004


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