Sunday, January 14, 2007

Room temperature

It's important to keep the patient in warm in most cases. Most cardiac cases this is not an issue much because the heart-lung bypass machine has a heat exchanger on it which allows the perfusionist to warm or cool the (patient's) blood as it goes through it.

We were doing a big cardiac case under left heart bypass -- where part of the blood is taken after it gets passed through the lungs, and rerouted to the femoral artery in the groin so that work can be done to the descending aorta with most of the blood flow being perserved. This is nice so that damage to important organs like the kidneys and intestines can be limited.

Since we have less control over temperature because it's only partial bypass, we had the room temperature way up. It was warm for me, but must have been killer for the surgeons who were wearing waterproof gowns, etc.

On of the attending surgeons was scrubbed in and asked for temperature to be turned down. He's generally very expressive. "Turn down the temperature or I'll vomit in the wound and the patient will get septic and die!" I just about died laughing...

(For those not in the know... sepsis in a severe systemic infection caused by bacteria. If you vomited into a patient surely this would happen but it's not a scenario you contemplate ... well ever.)