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Comparison of fluid warmer performance during simulated clinical conditions.

The study evaluated the warming ability and flow rates associated with four fluid warming devices during pressure driven infusion and during wide open gravity driven roller clamp infusion. Warmers tested were the Astotherm, Flotem IIe, Level 1 System 250 and a modified cardioplegia heat exchanger. Fluids tested were crystalloid, red cells diluted with 200 ml, 0.9% saline, and undiluted red cells. The volume of fluid and outlet temperatures (point where i.v. tubing would be attached to the patient) were measured for each fluid and compared among warmers for each flow rate condition. For pressure driven infusion of red cells and crystalloid, the System 250, and modified heat exchanger delivered warmer fluids (33-35 degrees C) at higher flow rates (160-740 ml.min-1) than the Astotherm and Flotem (23-31 degrees C, 44-268 ml.min-1, P < 0.05). For gravity driven infusion, the System 250 delivered the warmest fluids (33-36 degrees C, P < 0.05) compared with the modified heat exchanger (29-35 degrees C), Astotherm (26-32 degrees C) and Flotem (26-27 degrees C). In conclusion, the modified heat exchanger and System 250 were moderately effective (outlet temperature > 32 degrees C) in warming crystalloid and red cells at pressure driven flow rates. Only the System 250 warmed red cells > 35 degrees C at gravity driven flow rates. The Flotem and Astotherm were not effective in warming rapidly infused solutions. None of the warmers tested was able to deliver fluids at normothermia (> 36.5 degrees C).

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