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The importance of peri-anaesthetic temperature management: part 2

02 November 2023
8 mins read
Volume 14 · Issue 9
Figure 4. The energy generated by magnetic resonance imaging scans is transformed into heat in the patient's tissues, which can lead to hyperthermia in large patients or those undergoing prolonged scans
Figure 4. The energy generated by magnetic resonance imaging scans is transformed into heat in the patient's tissues, which can lead to hyperthermia in large patients or those undergoing prolonged scans


When considering patient temperature management under anaesthesia, hyperthermia is a rare complication. Associated risk factors, management and prevention of hyperthermia are considered in this article to ensure that veterinary nurses feel confident in dealing with these cases and identifying atrisk patients. This article is the second in a series dedicated to exploring the importance of temperature monitoring and management during the anaesthetic period.

Hyperthermia is most commonly associated with heat stroke, although it can occur during the anaesthetic period as a result of numerous catalysts and factors (Pollock, 2009; Thomson et al, 2014). Hyperthermia refers to an increase in core body temperature above ‘normal’ parameters, and differs from pyrexia because of its lack of a physiological trigger (Pollock, 2009; Rigotti and De Vries, 2010). While pyrexia is the body's systemic response to pain, infection, or the inflammatory process, hyperthermia is often caused by external sources (Scales, 2023). It can arise as a result of over-eager peri-anaesthetic warming, or other triggers such as malignant hyperthermia and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners (Pollock, 2009; Rigotti and De Vries, 2010). Hypothermia is commonly associated with anaesthetic events, although hyperthermia can also occur with equally devastating effects (Pollock, 2009). Normal temperature ranges were outlined in part one of this series (Kershaw, 2023) (Table 1).

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