Can an in-line fluid warmer prove more effective than a fluid warming cabinet?

Many operating theatres use in-line fluid warmers prior to administration to patients

These can be expensive due to the required use of disposable sterile items.

The alternative is to use fluid warming cabinets. Admittedly the fluids in cabinets will take longer to warm up but the initial cost of cabinets is lower than in-line systems and there are no on-going costs such as disposables. (Note that if warming IV fluids an MDD registered warming cabinet must be used .

So, if any, which method of warming fluids is better?

A few years ago Dr John Andrzejowski, consultant anaesthetist at Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital, UK, did such a study. 76 consenting adult patients were split into three groups – no fluid warming, warming using an in-line warmer and fluids warmed using a cabinet. The ages in each group were similar as were room, theatre and patient pre-operative temperature. The duration of the surgical procedures were also similar.

At the end of the procedures and also in the recovery ward patients’ temperatures using the fluids warmed in a cabinet or by using the in-line warmer were found to be statistically more normothermic than those of patients receiving room temperature fluids.

It is to be expected that warmed fluids are better for the patient but it is very interesting that there was no statistical difference between the two warmed fluid groups.

This clearly shows that there can be significant savings by warming fluids using a warming cabinet rather than an in-line warming device.

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