Perioperative cost-finding analysis of the routine use of intraoperative forced-air warming during general anesthesia

Lee A. Fleisher, Scott E. Metzger, Janet Lam, Andrew Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background: Despite the well-documented ability of forced-air warming (FAW) to maintain normothermia, it is unclear whether this technique results in a net increase or decrease in costs. The authors did a prospective cost- finding study comparing FAW with routine thermal care in patients at low risk for perioperative complications who were undergoing general anesthesia. Methods: After institutional review board approval was received, 100 patients were studied who were having elective surgery scheduled for more than 2 h during general endotracheal anesthesia. Patients were randomly assigned to one of two groups: FAW or routine thermal care. All patients received a standardized anesthetic. Anesthesia providers were blinded to core temperatures and the use of FAW. Primary outcomes were those associated with perioperative costs. Results: The time from completion of surgical dressing until tracheal extubation was significantly reduced in the FAW group (10 ± 1 min compared with 14 ± 1 min; mean ± SEM; P < 0.01). There was no demonstrable difference in attainment of postanesthesia care unit discharge criteria between the two groups, although the FAW group used one less cotton blanket there. The net savings related to the use of the FAW depends on the percentage of the intraoperative costs that are fixed rather than variable ($15 additional for FAW if all costs are fixed compared with $29 savings if all costs were variable). Conclusions: Routine intraoperative FAW significantly reduced time until extubation and use of cotton blankets in the postanesthesia care unit. These results suggest that the influence of FAW on net total perioperative costs depends on patient and surgical characteristics and institutional factors related to cost accounting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1357-1364
Number of pages8
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Economics
  • Hypothermia
  • Randomized clinical trial
  • Sensitivity analysis
  • Technology assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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