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J Hosp Infect. 2009 Sep;73(1):58-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2009.06.006. Epub 2009 Jul 31.

Active warming systems to maintain perioperative normothermia in hip replacement surgery: a therapeutic aid or a vector of infection?

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Department of Clinical Methodology and Medical-Surgical Technologies - Orthopaedics Section, University General Hospital, Bari, Italy.


Various reliable body heat-regulating systems have been designed and developed with the aim of maintaining an adequate body temperature in the course of major surgery. This is crucial to avoid the onset of potentially severe complications that are especially serious in elderly and debilitated subjects. Among these systems, the Bair Hugger blanket has demonstrated excellent efficacy. However, some reports in the literature have suggested that the use of such devices can increase the risk of nosocomial infections, particularly surgical wound infections. The aim of this study was to assess the risk of contamination of the surgical site correlated to the use of the Bair Hugger blanket during hip replacement surgery. To this end, the level of bacterial contamination of the air in the operating theatre was quantified with and without the use of the Bair Hugger, during the course of 30 total non-cemented hip implants performed in patients with osteoarthritis. Sampling was done both in the empty theatre and during surgical procedures, in different zones around the operating table and on the patient's body surface. Statistical analysis of the results demonstrated that the Bair Hugger system does not pose a real risk for nosocomial infections, whereas it does offer the advantage of preventing the potentially very severe consequences of hypothermia during major orthopaedic surgery. In addition, monitoring patients over the six months following the operation allowed us to exclude a later manifestation of a nosocomial infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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