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Anesth Analg. 1993 Oct;77(4):721-6.

Thermoregulatory response thresholds during spinal anesthesia.

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Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care, University of Vienna, Austria.


Reportedly, during spinal anesthesia, the shivering threshold is reduced approximately 1 degree C but the vasoconstriction threshold remains normal. Such divergence between the shivering and vasoconstriction thresholds is an unusual pattern of thermoregulatory impairment and suggests that the mechanisms of impairment during regional anesthesia may be especially complex. Accordingly, we sought to define the pattern of thermoregulatory impairment during spinal anesthesia by measuring response thresholds. Seven healthy women volunteered to participate on two study days. On one day, we evaluated thermoregulatory responses to hypothermia and hyperthermia during spinal anesthesia; on the other day, responses were evaluated without anesthesia. Upper body skin temperature was kept constant throughout the study. The volunteers were warmed via the lower body and cooled by central venous infusion of cold fluid. The core temperatures triggering a sweating rate of 40 g.m-2 x h-1, a finger flow of 0.1 mL/min, and a marked and sustained increase in oxygen consumption were considered the thermoregulatory thresholds for sweating, vasoconstriction, and shivering, respectively. Spinal anesthesia significantly decreased the thresholds for vasoconstriction and shivering, and the decrease in each was approximately 0.5 degree C. The range of temperatures not triggering thermoregulatory responses (those between sweating and vasoconstriction) was 0.9 +/- 0.6 degree C during spinal anesthesia. The synchronous decrease in the shivering and vasoconstriction thresholds during spinal anesthesia is consistent with thermoregulatory impairment resulting from altered afferent thermal input.

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