[Accidental hypothermia]

H Brugger, G Putzer, P Paal
Der Anaesthesist 2013, 62 (8): 624-31
Uncertainty exists on how to treat patients suffering from accidental hypothermia and on the optimal transport decisions. The aim of this review is to provide an updated evidence-based reference for the pre-hospital and in-hospital management of patients with accidental hypothermia and for the transport decisions required to facilitate treatment. Advances in the efficiency and availability of rewarming techniques have improved the prognosis for patients presenting with hypothermia. For hypothermic patients with a core body temperature ≥ 28 °C without cardiac instability there is increasing evidence to support the use of active external and minimally invasive rewarming techniques (e.g. chemical, electrical or forced air heating packs, blankets and warm parenteral fluids). Hypothermic patients with cardiac instability (i.e. systolic blood pressure < 90 mmHg, ventricular arrhythmia and core body temperature < 28 °C) should be rewarmed with active external and minimally invasive rewarming techniques in a hospital which also has circulation substituting venous-arterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VA-ECMO) and cardiopulmonary bypass (CBP) facilities. In cardiac arrest patients VA-ECMO may be a better treatment option than CBP and survival rates of 100 % can be achieved compared to ~ 10 % with traditional methods (e.g. body cavity lavage). Early transport to a hospital appropriately equipped for rewarming has the potential to decrease complication rates and improve survival.

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