When under anaesthesia, your body undergoes many changes. These changes may range from insignificant to life threatening. One major change that occurs on the human body during anaesthesia, is the change in core body temperature. This change may cause significant differences, which is why it is recommended to monitor body temperature when undergoing general anaesthesia. 

Why should anaesthetists monitor patients’ temperature?

The Malignant Hyperthermia Association of the United States(MHAUS) recommends core temperature to be monitored for all patients undergoing general anaesthesia for longer than 30 minutes.1 The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends temperature monitoring continuously in patients in whom a change is anticipated, intended, or suspected.2  The American Society of Anaesthesiologist (ASA)  recommends that every patient receiving anaesthesia shall have temperature monitored when clinically significant changes in body temperature are intended, anticipated it suspected.3 The Association of Surgical Technologist(AST) recommends that measures to monitor and maintain body temperature should begin in the preoperative phase and continue into the postoperative phase of the surgical procedure.4

Through these standards and guidelines, the importance of monitoring a patient’s temperature is clearly shown.

So what happens when an anaesthetist decides not to monitor a patients’ temperature?

They would not be able to notice common difficulties that arise when a patient undergoes anesthestia.

The most common occurrence, they may fail to recognise is that a patient will become hypothermic. This is when a patient’s body temperature falls below a normal body temperature, which can be life threatening. Hypothermia can cause increased cardiac output, shivering and pain, increase in wound infection, delayed wound healing, and delayed discharge. 

The other occurrence is a patient becoming hyperthermic. This occurs when a patient’s body temperature rises compared to a normal body temperature. This does occur less frequently, however it can still be fatal. Hyperthermia can cause fever, dilated blood vessels, increased circulation, higher heart rate, pain, and significant medical interventions.

In extreme, but rare cases, a patient may experience malignant hyperthermia. This is when a patient has a poor reaction to the aesthetic drug being used. In this case, the patient may experience a rapid increase in heart rate and body temperature.5 

In a statistic done, it showed that 64% of patients become hypothermic during surgery.1 With such a high statistic, it is vital for anaesthetists to take precautions with patients. To prevent patients from experiencing hypothermia and hyperthermia, anaesthetists must take extra care in keeping them safe. 

In order to keep the patient safe, it is important to constantly monitor their body temperature. Above that, it is vital to ensure temperature monitoring is accurate. Starboard Medical has a very versatile set of temperature probes. We take our time to ensure accuracy and ease of use. By using one of the four temperature probes we offer, anaesthetists can comply with the stated standards and guidelines and ensure the patient’s temperature is being appropriately monitored. 

  1. Malignant Hyperthermia Association of the United States. (2012). Temperature Monitoring During Surgical Procedures. Retrieved from  https://www.mhaus.org/healthcare-professionals/mhaus-recommendations/temperature-monitoring-during-surgical-procedures/#:~:text=MHAUS%20recommends%20core%20temperature%20monitoring,bladder%2C%20and%20the%20pulmonary%20artery.  
  2. World Health Organization. (2009). WHO Guidelines for Safe Surgery. Retrieved from https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/44185/9789241598552_eng.pdf;jession
  3. American Society of Anesthesiologist. (2010). Standards for Basic Anesthetic Monitoring. Retrieved from https://www.asahq.org/standards-and-guidelines/standards-for-basic-anesthetic-monitoring 
  4. Association of Surgical Technologist. (2019). AST Guidelines for Best Practice in Maintaining Normothermia in the Perioperative Patient. Retrieved from https://www.ast.org/uploadedFiles/Main_Site/Content/About_Us/ASTGuidlinesNormothermia.pdf 
  5. https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/malignant-hyperthermia/