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Controversies in the temperature management of critically ill patients

Abstract

Although body temperature is a classic primary vital sign, its value has received little attention compared with the others (blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate). This may result from the fact that unlike the other primary vital signs, aging and diseases rarely affect the thermoregulatory system. Despite this, when humans are exposed to various anesthetics and analgesics and acute etiologies of non-infectious and infectious diseases in perioperative and intensive care settings, abnormalities may occur that shift body temperature up and down. A recent upsurge in clinical evidence in the perioperative and critical care field resulted in many clinical trials in temperature management. The results of these clinical trials suggest that aggressive body temperature modifications in comatose survivors after resuscitation from shockable rhythm, and permissive fever in critically ill patients, are carried out in critical care settings to improve patient outcomes; however, its efficacy remains to be elucidated. A recent, large multicenter randomized controlled trial demonstrated contradictory results, which may disrupt the trends in clinical practice. Thus, updated information concerning thermoregulatory interventions is essential for anesthesiologists and intensivists. Here, recent controversies in therapeutic hypothermia and fever management are summarized, and their relevance to the physiology of human thermoregulation is discussed.

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Correspondence to Yasufumi Nakajima.

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Nakajima, Y. Controversies in the temperature management of critically ill patients. J Anesth 30, 873–883 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00540-016-2200-7

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Keywords

  • Therapeutic hypothermia
  • Fever
  • Temperature management
  • Intensive care