To determine if intraoperative hypothermia correlates with perioperative complications in patients undergoing head and neck surgery with regional or free flap reconstructions.
Retrospective medical chart review.
Academic tertiary care hospital.
A sample of 136 patients who underwent ablative surgery for head and neck cancer and subsequently required reconstruction with free tissue or a regional flap in the last 10 years.
Main Outcome Measures
Rate of early (within 3 weeks of surgery) perioperative complications and its correlation with patient hypothermia (core body temperature, <35°C).
There were 43 patients with complications. Two patients died. Complications included 10 partial or total flap losses, 9 hematomas, 8 episodes of pneumonia, 7 fistulas, 7 wound infections, 5 wound breakdowns, and 2 cerebrospinal fluid leaks. Factors that did not correlate with complications included having received prior chemotherapy (P = .84), having stage IV cancer (P = .16), sex (P = .43), tobacco use (P = .58), prior radiotherapy (P = .30), the presence of comorbidities (P = .43), age (P = .27), length of surgery (P = .63), and the use of blood products perioperatively (P = .73). Patients who were hypothermic had a significantly higher rate of complications that normothermic patients (P = .002). Stepwise logistic regression analysis identified intraoperative hypothermia as a significant independent predictor for the development of early perioperative complications (odds ratio, 5.122; 95% confidence interval, 1.317-19.917).
Intraoperative hypothermia in head and neck surgery is correlated with perioperative complications. Maintaining normothermia through aggressive warming may decrease the incidence of perioperative morbidity for these patients.