A Moment of Science

Why Operating Rooms Are So Cold

Ever wonder why operating rooms are so cold? Find out on today's A Moment Of Science.

An operating room full of high-tech equipment

Photo: The Neenan Company (flicker)

An operating room that's too cold can actually be bad for the patient.

This A Moment Of Science might mean more to those who have had surgery, or who’ve been in a hospital’s operating room for some other reason. The question we’re answering is “Why are operating rooms so cold?”

You probably already know that body temperatures increase under stress. Well, when doctors operate — especially in high pressure situations — they tend to get warm and start to sweat. Operating rooms are kept colder than normal so the surgeons and nurses feel comfortable.

Of course, it’s important that the patient’s body temperature doesn’t drop too much. If they get too cold, their blood won’t clot properly, and they actually may be at a higher risk of infection.

Oftentimes, once the medical staff gets to the operating room, they’ll cover the patient with a heated blanket or give them a heating pad. They also might heat up the IV fluid and the blood used for transfusions since this also impacts body temperature.

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