Multivariate determinants of early postoperative oxygen consumption in elderly patients: Effects of shivering, body temperature, and gender

S. M. Frank, L. A. Fleisher, K. F. Olson, R. B. Gorman, M. S. Higgins, M. J. Breslow, J. V. Sitzmann, C. Beattie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

138 Scopus citations


Background: Previous investigators have proposed that postoperative shivering may be poorly tolerated by patients with cardiopulmonary disease because of the associated significant increase in total-body oxygen consumption. However, the often-quoted 300-400% increase in oxygen consumption with shivering was derived from relatively few studies performed in a small number of younger persons specifically selected on the basis of clinically recognizable shivering. We hypothesized that the average elderly postoperative patient has a shivering response that is associated with a relatively small increase in total-body oxygen consumption. Methods: One hundred eleven elderly patients (age >60 yr) undergoing surgery were studied to assess the determinants of shivering and total-body oxygen consumption in the early postoperative period. Anesthetic technique, postoperative analgesia, and thermal management were controlled by protocol. The clinical variables associated with shivering and increased total-body oxygen consumption were determined by univariate and multivariate analyses. Results: Mean total-body oxygen consumption in shivering patients was 38% greater than in nonshivering patients. Regardless of whether data from shivering patients were included in the analysis, oxygen consumption was directly proportional to mean body temperature. Despite similar core temperatures, men had a greater incidence of clinically recognizable shivering and greater total- body oxygen consumption than did women. Conclusions: The metabolic demands associated with post-operative shivering in elderly patients are less than those reported previously in younger persons. These findings suggest that if hypothermia predisposes to cardiovascular complications in the postoperative period, these complications are not likely to be mediated by shivering and increased metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-249
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1995


  • Metabolism: oxygen consumption
  • Patient characteristics: age; gender
  • Temperature regulation: postoperative shivering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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