Hypothermia in patients with chronic spinal cord injury

Sofia Khan, Mary Plummer, Alberto Martinez-Arizala, Kresimir Banovac

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations

Abstract

Design: Retrospective analysis of medical records. Background/Objectives: To determine frequency and degree of hypothermic episodes in patients with chronic spinal cord injury (SCI). Setting: Veterans Administration Medical Center. Methods: Research involved analysis of body temperature records of 50 chronic patients with tetraplegia. All patients were men with a length of injury of 19 ± 6 years. Mean age was 53 ± 15 (SD) years. Data were derived from the computerized patient record database system of the Veterans Administration Medical Center. Results were classified into 3 groups: (a) hypothermia (<95°F), (b) subnormal temperature (<97.7°F), and normal temperatures (97.7°F to 98.4°F). Body temperature was recorded during hospitalization (minimum duration of 30 days) using an oral probe twice a day. Ambient temperature was controlled by a central air-conditioning system and maintained at 72°F to 74°F. Results: A total of 867 measurements of body temperature were evaluated; normal temperature was recorded 298 times (35%), subnormal temperature was recorded 544 times (63%), and hypothermia was recorded 25 times (3%). There were 15 patients with 30 hypothermic episodes; subnormal temperature was found in all 50 patients from 1 to 47 times. Regression analysis of age and duration of SCI showed a nonsignificant relationship with body temperature. Conclusions: Our data suggest that patients with tetraplegia after SCI have significant dysfunction of thermoregulation associated with frequent episodes of subnormal body temperature in a normal ambient environment. Further studies are needed to evaluate possible consequences of low temperatures on the general health of patients and to develop preventive interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-30
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Spinal Cord Medicine
Volume30
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2007

Keywords

  • Hypothermia
  • Paraplegia
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Tetraplegia
  • Thermoregulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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