Schuster, C. J., Pang, D. S. J. 2018. Forced-air pre-warming prevents peri-anaesthetic hypothermia and shortens recovery in adult rats. Laboratory Animals 52(2), 142-151.
General anaesthesia disrupts thermoregulation in mammals, which can cause hypothermia. Decreases in core body temperature of 1℃ cause significant postoperative complications in humans, and peri-anaesthetic hypothermia in mice increases data variability, which can potentially increase animal use. In rats, the impact of different temperature management strategies on the incidence and severity of hypothermia, and the accuracy of different temperature measurement methods, is unknown. Eighteen adult male and female SD rats were block-randomized to one of three treatment groups: no-warming (NW), limited-warming (LW, heat pad during anaesthesia), and pre-warming (PW, warm air exposure before anaesthesia, followed by heat pad). Anaesthesia (isoflurane) duration was for 40 min. Core body temperature (intra-abdominal telemetric temperature capsule) was recorded during anaesthesia and recovery. During anaesthesia, rectal, skin, and tail temperatures were also recorded. In the PW group, core temperature was maintained during anaesthesia and recovery. By contrast, the NW group was hypothermic (11% temperature decrease) during anaesthesia. The LW group showed a decrease in temperature during recovery. Recovery to sternal recumbency was significantly faster in the PW (125 [70–186] s, P = 0.0003) and the LW (188 [169–420] s, P = 0.04) groups than in the NW group (525 [229–652] s). Rectal temperature underestimated core temperature (bias −0.90℃, 95% limits of agreement −0.1 to 1.9℃). Skin and tail temperatures showed wide 95% limits of agreement, spanning 6 to 15℃, respectively. The novel strategy of PW was effective at maintaining core temperature during and after anaesthesia. Rectal temperature provided an acceptable proxy for core body temperature.