This Moment of Science might mean more to those who have had surgery, or who have been in a hospital’s operating room for some other reason, and asked the question: Why is the operating room 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. But an added bonus of the cooler temperature is that cold air also inhibits the spread of bacteria.
The ventilation system in operating rooms is set up so that the airflow helps flush germs out of the surgical suite; this reduces the risk of infection.
The patient’s body temperature is important too; if they get too cold, their blood won’t clot properly. Effectively, once the medical staff gets to the operating room, they’ll probably cover the patient with a heated blanket or give them a heating pad. They might also use a special covering that allows for the circulation of warm air. They also might heat up the IV fluid and the blood used for transfusions since this also impacts body temperature.