A surgery, whether elective or emergency, is a complex procedure that requires complete care during and after it. It is highly significant to take complete care to expedite the patient’s recovery process and also reduce the chances of any undesirable consequences such as infections. A little negligence can cause drastic results that can put the patient’s life in danger. To make surgeries successful and ensure the patient’s recovery process, several pieces of equipment and procedures are used by doctors. Such a procedure that is done during surgery and helps greatly in making a surgery successful is the use of warm fluids for flushing body cavities, a procedure known as irrigation in medical terms. Today we are going to discuss why it is important to warm fluids for flushing body cavities and what consequences can arise if cold fluids are used to flush body cavities during surgeries.
What is irrigation?
In medical terms, irrigation is the process of washing out an organ, a body cavity, or a wound by flushing it with a fluid or medicated solution. Warming this fluid before irrigation is helpful in many ways as it can help to facilitate in patient’s healing process. This can also help to lower the chances of infections. Irrigation can help to remove any kind of debris from the surgical site which can help to reduce the chances of inflammation and infection. As flushing the body cavities with warm fluids can help to clean the body cavities of any dirt, debris, or bacteria, it can help to reduce the complications caused by these factors. Therefore, it is important to flush the body cavities during surgery.
Why irrigation fluids should be warmed during surgery?
During surgeries, it is important to keep the patient’s body temperature normal to prevent hypothermia. Hypothermia is a state that is caused by exposure to too cold temperatures for a long period. During surgery, the patients are at a higher risk of hypothermia due to disruption of thermoregulation by anesthesia, which is coupled with cold exposure to procedural surroundings, cold intravenous, and, irrigation fluids. Patients can have an increased risk of developing hypothermia if they are given cold fluids or blood. For this purpose, blood is warmed to the core body temperature before giving it to a patient. Apart from blood, the fluids that are used to flush body cavities should also be warmed to prevent hypothermia which is a dangerous drop in the patient’s body temperature. Hypothermia can be dangerous as it can lead to complete failure of the heart and respiratory system. It can also cause
- Increased cardiovascular complications
- Blood loss and transfusion requirements
- Increased infection rate
- Discomfort and shivering after surgery
- Increased time of hospital stay
Using warmed solutions, whether intravenous or irrigation fluids, can help to prevent hypothermia and its above-listed consequences. If cold fluids are used for flushing the body cavities during surgery, it can add up in the loss of patient’s temperature drop and cause the hypothermia to become severe. Warming the fluids before flushing cavities during surgeries can help in the following ways.
Reduced blood loss
Hypothermia can lead to increased blood loss during surgery. This is because of the platelet dysfunction and coagulation cascade enzyme dysfunction. An increased blood loss can make it difficult for surgeons to operate and control the bleeding. Therefore, it is important to prevent it.
Surgical wound infection
Hypothermia has been associated with a higher risk of surgical wound infection that can cause complications and increase the hospital stay of the patients. Therefore, it is highly significant to prevent hypothermia during surgery which can be caused by using cold fluids for flushing body cavities.
Surgical wound infection
Severe hypothermia can cause an increased risk of complete failure of the heart. Apart from heart failure, it can also lead to several cardiac events including angina, ischemia, infarction, and, cardiac arrest. The use of cold irrigating fluids combined with other factors during surgery can increase the chances of the patient suffering from any of these complications.
Shivering and thermal discomfort
Hypothermia during surgery can lead to thermal discomfort, oxygen consumption, vasoconstriction, and, shivering. As shivering is four times more dependent on a person’s core body temperature than his skin temperature, it is one of the most common symptoms reported by people after surgery. This shivering is caused by the anesthetic-induced inhibition of thermoregulation. Therefore, to avoid shivering after surgeries, it is important to maintain normothermia during surgeries.
Increased length of hospital stay
The complications caused by hypothermia can cause an increase in the hospital’s stay time. It can cause problems for the patients as well as for the medical staff and hospitals. Therefore, hypothermia should be avoided to minimize the time of hospital stay.
How are fluids warmed for flushing body cavities?
Irrigation fluid warmer
Fluids are warmed before administering to a body cavity with the help of an in-line fluid warmer or warming cabinet. These fluid warmers help to warm these fluids to core body temperature and assist in reducing the chances of complications. Apart from these, cotton blankets, wool blankets, heaters, warm water mattresses, and many other things can be used for the prevention of hypothermia.
Warming fluids before flushing body cavities during surgery is important as it can assist in reducing the chances of hypothermia in surgical patients and its further consequences. However, it is important to note that only warming irrigation fluids do not help prevent hypothermia. There are several other factors that contribute including warming the intravenous fluids and keeping the patient warm before, during, and, after the surgery. It is important that using all these factors, the hospital staff must ensure minimum heat loss of the patients so that the patients can recover faster and not develop any severe consequences caused by hypothermia. Due to the assistance warmed fluids provide in reducing the chances of hypothermia and its consequences, we can say that it is highly significant to warm fluids for flushing the body cavities during surgery.