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Anaesthesia. 2012 Mar;67(3):244-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2044.2011.06983.x.

Effect of forced-air warming on the performance of operating theatre laminar flow ventilation.

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Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals, Norwich, UK.


Forced-air warming exhaust may disrupt operating theatre airflows via formation of convection currents, which depends upon differences in exhaust and operating room air temperatures. We investigated whether the floor-to-ceiling temperatures around a draped manikin in a laminar-flow theatre differed when using three types of warming devices: a forced-air warming blanket (Bair Hugger™); an over-body conductive blanket (Hot Dog™); and an under-body resistive mattress (Inditherm™). With forced-air warming, mean (SD) temperatures were significantly elevated over the surgical site vs those measured with the conductive blanket (+2.73 (0.7) °C; p<0.001) or resistive mattress (+3.63 (0.7) °C; p<0.001). Air temperature differences were insignificant between devices at floor (p=0.339), knee (p=0.799) and head height levels (p=0.573). We conclude that forced-air warming generates convection current activity in the vicinity of the surgical site. The clinical concern is that these currents may disrupt ventilation airflows intended to clear airborne contaminants from the surgical site.

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