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Body temperature change and outcomes in patients undergoing long-distance air medical transport

Published:April 30, 2018DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajem.2018.04.064

      Abstract

      Background

      Short-distance air medical transport for adult emergency patients does not significantly affect patients' body temperature and outcomes. This study aimed to examine the influence of long-distance air medical transport on patients' body temperatures and the relationship between body temperature change and mortality.

      Methods

      We retrospectively enrolled consecutive patients transferred via helicopter or plane from isolated islands to an emergency medical center in Tokyo, Japan between April 2010 and December 2016. Patients' average body temperature was compared before and after air transport using a paired t-test, and corrections between body temperature change and flight duration were calculated using Pearson's correlation coefficient. Multivariable logistic regression models were then used to examine the association between body temperature change and in-hospital mortality.

      Results

      Of 1253 patients, the median age was 72 years (interquartile range, 60–82 years) and median flight duration was 71 min (interquartile range, 54–93 min). In-hospital mortality was 8.5%, and average body temperature was significantly different before and after air transport (36.7 °C versus 36.3 °C; difference: −0.36 °C; 95% confidence interval, −0.30 to −0.42; p < 0.001). There was no correlation between body temperature change and flight duration (r = 0.025, p = 0.371). In-hospital death was significantly associated with (i) hyperthermia (>38.0 °C) or normothermia (36.0–37.9 °C) before air transport and hypothermia after air transport (odds ratio, 2.08; 95% confidence interval, 1.20–3.63; p = 0.009), and (ii) winter season (odds ratio, 2.15; 95% confidence interval, 1.08–4.27; p = 0.030).

      Conclusion

      Physicians should consider body temperature change during long-distance air transport in patients with not only hypothermia but also normothermia or hyperthermia before air transport, especially in winter.

      Keywords

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