Hypothermia exacerbates coagulopathy and is thus a potentially devastating morbidity during operative debridement of burn wounds. Current techniques for maintaining body temperature include warming intravenous fluids at 38 degrees C. The purpose of this study was to assess the safety of infusing saline heated to 55-60 degrees C.
Using a modified fluid warmer, saline heated to 60 degrees C was infused through central venous access in eight adult patients undergoing debridement of burn wounds. The temperature of the saline actually entering the patient was measured by a thermocouple attached at the connection to the central line catheter.
The actual infusate temperature was 54.0 +/- 1.2 degrees C. Over the first hour, 1,100 mL of hot saline was given, thus delivering 17.6 kcal more heat than fluid warmed to the traditional 38 degrees C. Core temperature measured via esophageal and Foley catheters had an insignificant trend toward increase during the operative procedure. There was no evidence of intravascular hemolysis or coagulopathy.
This pilot study suggests that infusion of hot crystalloids given via central venous access is safe and may be an acceptable adjuvant in attenuating hypothermia during operative procedures.