European Journal of Anaesthesiology

Original Article
(RD) Surgery

Perioperative hypothermia and postoperative opioid requirements

K. Persson a1 and J. Lundberg a2c1
a1 Departments of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care, Kristianstad Central Hospital, Kristianstad, Sweden
a2 Departments of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care, Lund University Hospital, Lund, Sweden

Article author query
persson k   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
lundberg j   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Background and objective Hypothermia may alter the disposition of opioids. Because opioids are commonly used as analgesics in the postoperative period, it is of clinical interest to clarify whether perioperatively developed hypothermia affects postoperative opioid requirements.

Methods Fifty-nine patients undergoing subtotal hysterectomy were prospectively randomized and either treated intraoperatively with forced air warming, or served as controls covered with conventional blankets without active warming. Both groups received postoperative patient-controlled analgesia with the opioid ketobemidone. Total analgesic requirements, demands, analgesic requirements over 6-h intervals and pain scores were measured for 48 h. Core temperature at the tympanic membrane and ambient room temperature were measured during the perioperative period.

Results There were no postoperative differences in analgesic requirements or pain intensity between normothermic and hypothermic patients. Patients treated with warm air had an up to 1°C higher core temperature from 0.5 h after anaesthesia induction until almost 2 h postoperatively. The actively warmed patients also had a lower intraoperative blood loss than the hypothermic patients (186 ± 27 mL vs. 308 ± 47 mL; P < 0.05).

Conclusion In a clinical setting, opioid requirements do not seem to be affected by mild postoperative hypothermia after lower abdominal surgery.

(Published Online August 16 2006)
(Accepted February 2001)

Key Words: anaesthesia; general; analgesia; postoperative; analgesics; opioid; ketobemidone; body temperature changes; hypothermia; gynaecological surgical procedures; hysterectomy; haemorrhage; blood loss; surgical; pain; postoperative.

c1 Correspondence: J. Lundberg.