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The importance of peri-anaesthetic temperature management: part 1

02 September 2023
10 mins read
Volume 14 · Issue 7
Figure 4. Heat strategies and aids.
Figure 4. Heat strategies and aids.


Temperature management is a vital but often overlooked area of anaesthesia. By nature, anaesthetics inhibit the area of the brain responsible for maintaining normothermia, and many anaesthetic drugs exacerbate heat loss through vasodilation. Both hypothermia and hyperthermia can manifest under anaesthesia and present life-threatening changes to the patient's normal homeostatic mechanisms. This series of articles will discuss the risk factors, prevention methods and complications associated with hypothermia and hyperthermia.

There are numerous potential side effects to consider when administering anaesthetic inducing drugs. One of the most profound and well-documented side effects is the disruption of the patient's thermoregulatory ability, leading to deviation outside of an acceptable temperature range, resulting in potential derangements in homeostatic processes such as drug metabolism (Clark-Price, 2015). This disruption can result in patient hypo- or hyperthermia. Both have significant negative effects and so it is in the best interests of the veterinary team to minimise and mitigate the occurrence and impact of these conditions. This article will discuss the pathophysiology, effects and methods of prevention and management for hypothermic events in anaesthetised patients. The second part of this series will focus on management and causes of hyperthermia under anaesthesia.

Despite the importance of maintaining normothermia in anaesthetised patients, the definition of ‘normal’ body temperature is poorly defined in veterinary literature, making the goal temperature range ambiguous (Hall, 2021). For the purposes of this article, ‘normal’ temperature ranges are illustrated in Table 1.

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