The effects of core and peripheral warming methods on temperature and physiologic variables in injured children

Kathleen A. O'neill, Lisa Marie Bernardo, Mary Jane Gardner, Joseph Lucke, Henri Ford, Kathleen A. O'Neil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations


Introduction: Injured children are at risk for thermoregulatory compromise, where temperature maintenance mechanisms are overwhelmed by severe injury, environmental exposure, and resuscitation measures. Adequate thermoregulation can be maintained, and heat loss can be prevented, by core (administration of warmed intravenous fluid) and peripheral (application of convective air warming) methods. It is not known which warming method is better to maintain thermoregulation and prevent heat loss in injured children during their trauma resuscitations. The purpose of this feasibility study was to compare the effects of core and peripheral warming measures on body temperature and physiologic changes in a small sample of injured children during their initial emergency department (ED) treatment. Methods: A prospective, randomized experimental design was used. Eight injured children aged 3 to 14 years (mean = 6.87, SD = 3.44) treated in the ED of Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh were enrolled. Physiologic responses (eg, heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, arterial oxygen saturation, core, peripheral temperatures) and level of consciousness were continuously measured and recorded every 5 minutes to detect early thermoregulatory compromise and to determine the child's response to warming. Data were collected throughout the resuscitation period, including transport to CT scan, the inpatient nursing unit, intensive care unit, operating room or discharge to home. Core warming was accomplished with the Hotline Fluid Warmer (Sims Level 1, Inc., Rockland, MA), and peripheral warming was accomplished with the Snuggle Warm Convective Warming System (Sims Level 1, Inc., Rockland, MA). Data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics. Results: There were no statistically significant differences between the two groups on age (t = -0.485, P = 0.645); weight (t = -0.005, P = 0.996); amount of prehospital intravenous (IV) fluid (t = 0.314, P = 0.766); temperature on ED arrival (t = 0.287, P = 0.784); total amount of infused IV fluid (t = -0.21, P = 0.8); and length of time from ED admission to hospital admission (t = -0.613, P = 0.56). There were no statistically significant differences between the two groups on RTS (t = -0.516, P = 0.633). When comparing the mean differences in temperature upon hospital admission, no statistically significant differences were found (t = -1.572, P = 0.167). There were no statistically significant differences between the two groups in tympanic [F(15) = 0.71, P = 0.44] and skin [F(15) = 0.06, P = 0.81] temperature measurements over time. Conclusion: Core and peripheral warming methods appeared to be effective in preventing heat loss in this stable patient population. A reasonable next step would be to continue this trial in a larger sample of patients who are at greater risk for heat loss and subsequent hypothermia and to use a control group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)138-142
Number of pages5
JournalPediatric Emergency Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2 2001
Externally publishedYes



  • Temperature regulation
  • Trauma
  • Warming methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Emergency Medicine

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