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Thermal Blanket Injury in the Operating Room

Stewart M. Scott, MD
Arch Surg. 1967;94(2):181. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1967.01330080019006.
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MODERATE hypothermia is frequently combined with extracorporeal circulation during open heart surgery. At the conclusion of heart-lung bypass the patients are often mildly hypothermic. During the remainder of the operation their body temperatures tend to drift. To maintain normothermia under these conditions, we have on occasion used a thermal blanket on the operating table. Three of our patients treated in this manner have sustained localized skin injuries of significant severity.

Report of Cases 

Case 1.  —A 40-year-old white man weighing 90 kg (198.5 1b) had an aortic valve prosthetic replacement for aortic insufficiency. The procedure was uncomplicated and the patient remained on the operating table, and on the thermal blanket, less than four hours. The blanket was at room temperature except when heated to a temperature of 42 C for an estimated period of one hour. Following surgery three linear areas of ischemia corresponding to ridges of the thermal blanket


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