, Volume 61, Issue 15, pp 2193–2205 | Cite as

Postanaesthetic Shivering

Epidemiology, Pathophysiology, and Approaches to Prevention and Management
  • Pascal AlfonsiEmail author
Therapy in Practice


Along with nausea and vomiting, postanaesthetic shivering is one of the leading causes of discomfort for patients recovering from general anaesthesia. The distinguishing factor during electromyogram recordings between patients with postanaesthetic shivering and shivering in fully awake patients is the existence of clonus similar to that recorded in patients with spinal cord transection. Clonus coexists with the classic waxing and waning signals associated with cutaneous vasoconstriction (thermoregulatory shivering). The primary cause of postanaesthetic shivering is peroperative hypothermia, which sets in because of anaesthetic-induced inhibition of thermoregulation. However, shivering associated with cutaneous vasodilatation (non-thermoregulatory shivering) also occurs, one of the origins of which is postoperative pain.

Apart from causing discomfort and aggravation of pain, postanaesthetic shivering increases metabolic demand proportionally to the solicited muscle mass and the cardiac capacity of the patient. No link has been demonstrated between the occurence of shivering and an increase in cardiac morbidity, but it is preferable to avoid postanaesthetic shivering because it is oxygen draining.

Prevention mainly entails preventing peroperative hypothermia by actively rewarming the patient. Postoperative skin surface rewarming is a rapid way of obtaining the threshold shivering temperature while raising the skin temperature and improving the comfort of the patient. However, it is less efficient than certain drugs such as meperidine, clonidine or tramadol, which act by reducing the shivering threshold temperature.


Clonidine Tramadol Ondansetron Dexmedetomidine Meperidine 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The author thanks the REDAR Association for its helpful contribution to the preparation of this manuscript.


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© Adis International Limited 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Département d’Anaesthésie - RéanimationHôpital A ParéBoulogne CedexFrance

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