Anesthesia and surgery interfere with normal thermoregulation, and nearly all patients will become hypothermic unless compensatory measures are used. Preoperative patient warming and intraoperative methods using forced air and warmed intravenous fluids are important methods for maintaining patient’s core temperature during the perioperative period. The benefits of maintaining normothermia include reductions in postoperative wound infection, the risk of perioperative coagulopathy, and myocardial ischemia. These advantages, demonstrated in patients undergoing general surgery, would be expected in patients undergoing gynecological surgery but have not been specifically studied in that population. Few studies have examined the maternal and neonatal effects of hypothermia after cesarean delivery. The results conflict as to the effectiveness of maternal warming techniques used to prevent it and the effects on neonatal temperature and acid-base status at delivery. Large prospective studies will be required to show significant effects on rates of maternal wound infection after cesarean delivery. European and American national obstetrical organizations have not published recommendations regarding the perioperative thermal regulation for cesarean delivery. We review the physiology of thermal regulation and perioperative thermal management in surgical patients and the literature that has examined perioperative maternal warming for cesarean delivery.
Target Audience: Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Family Physicians
Learning Objectives: After completing this CME activity, obstetric care providers will better 1) assess the mechanisms involved in perioperative heat loss, 2) evaluate the literature support for reduction of perioperative hypothermia to reduce operative complications, and 3) evaluate the literature support of available methods for reduction of maternal and neonatal hypothermia during cesarean delivery.