Patient warming research shows 3M puts patient safety first.

September 27, 2016 3M Canada

young female patient hugging teddy bear

More than 200 million anaesthetized patients worldwide have been warmed by the 3M™ Bair Hugger™ Warming System during surgeries for close to 30 years. That number now grows by 50,000 patients almost every single day1.

One factor for the Bair Hugger system’s success is an impressive history of safety and effectiveness.

Researchers John P. Abraham, Ph.D., Professor of Thermal Sciences at the University of St. Thomas, and Jennifer A. Wagner, Ph.D., Prism Environmental Health and Safety Solutions, released the results of a study, which found that the Bair Hugger system did not disrupt clean operating room airflow and did not move air from the floor to the surgical site.

The study aspect reads as follows:

Operation Room Air Flow Study with 3M™ Bair Hugger™ Warming System in Simulated Hip Replacement Surgery

John P. Abraham, Ph. D., University of St. Thomas and Jennifer A. Wagner, Ph. D., Prism Environmental Health and Safety Solutions

The Bair Hugger Warming System provides a safe and effective way to maintain normal body temperature during surgery.  When used properly the Bair Hugger Warming System lowers the risk of hypothermia and improves patient recovery and surgery outcomes (i.e. reduces risk of surgical site infection, blood loss and transfusion requirement, prolonged recovery, and fatal heart attack).  A scientific research project was undertaken to assess whether the Bair Hugger System disturbed the clean-air flow in an operating room in the vicinity of a sterile surgical site.  The investigation showed that the Bair Hugger Warming System did not disrupt the normal airflow patterns of an operating room, and did not move air from the floor to the surgical site in a simulated hip replacement procedure.

The investigation had three separate components. One part of the investigation incorporated advanced mathematical calculations based upon the fundamental laws of physics to track the paths of airflow in the operating room. The calculations demonstrated that the air from the Bair Hugger System avoided the surgical site. The air flow that emerged from the Bair Hugger System traveled away from the surgical table and migrated toward the room exhaust vents along with the air beneath the operating table – not toward the surgical site.

A second part of the investigation involved experiments performed in an operating room with flow visualization studies that purposely injected visible fog into multiple locations in the room: 1) behind the anesthesia screen where the Bair Hugger air would exit near the patient’s head; 2) underneath the surgical table; and 3) next to the surgical table, near the surgical team, and near the surgical site. This investigation found that downward clean moving air from ceiling supply ducts in an operating room inhibited air from other sources from intruding into the surgical region. The downward flow of clean air worked irrespective of whether the Bair Hugger Warming System was used or not.

The third part of the investigation included a review of the scientific literature. The best scientific work did not show any causal link between the use of a Bair Hugger Warming System and surgical site infections. Even contrary research, which was largely funded by a competitive company, failed to show any causal link. More than 170 clinical studies have utilized the Bair Hugger system, and studies have demonstrated forced-air warming’s clinical effectiveness. Studies have demonstrated perioperative temperature management with forced-air warming actually reduces the risk of surgical site infections2, surgical bleeding4-6and risk of heart attack7.

The findings of the three components of this investigation mutually reinforce one another. All of these studies showed that the 3M™ Bair Hugger™ Patient Warming System is safe when used according to manufacturer directions, providing an effective way to maintain patient temperature.

Learn more about 3M’s Commitment to Patient Safety

The science of temperature management has never been more evident. Recently, 3M announced the publication of a robust research compendium highlighting the safety and effectiveness of the 3M™ Bair Hugger™ Patient Warming System. The compilation of over 200 study summaries includes more than 60 randomized controlled trials and covers a wide range of surgeries – including hip, knee, cardiac and abdominal procedures – and reinforces the sheer volume of extensive research supporting the clinical use of the Bair Hugger system.

The compendium was assembled utilizing multiple search engines and five databases, including Medline, Embase, Biosis, Elsevier Biobase and Chemical Abstracts. Many of the included studies measure the performance of the Bair Hugger system against competing technologies, ranging from convection warming to resistive polymer technologies.

To download a digital copy of the 3M™ Bair Hugger™ Research Compendium, click here

  1. 3M Data on File
  2. Kurz, A. Sessler, DI. Lenhardt, R. Perioperative Normothermia to Reduce the Incidence of Surgical Wound Infection and Shorten Hospitalization. N Engl J Med. 1996;334:1209-15.
  3. Mahoney, CB. Odom, J. Maintaining intraoperative normothermia: A meta-analysis of outcomes with costs. AANA Journal. 1999;67(2):155-164.
  4. Rajagopalan, S. Mascha, E. Na, J. et. al. The Effects of Mild Perioperative Hypothermia on Blood Loss and Transfusion Requirement. Anesthesiology. Jan 2008;108(1):71-77.
  5. Schmeid H, Kurz A, Sessler DI, Kozek S, Reiter A. Mild hypothermia increases blood loss and transfusion requirements during total hip arthroplasty. Lancet 1996:347(8997):289–92.
  6. Winkler M, Akça O, Birkenberg B, et al. Aggressive warming reduces blood loss during hip arthroplasty. Anesth Analg 2000;91(4):978–84.
  7. Frank SM, Fleisher LA, Breslow MJ, et al. Perioperative maintenance of normothermia reduces the incidence of morbid cardiac events: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA 1997;277:1127–34.


Previous Article
How one man turned tragedy into a career in fire protection.
How one man turned tragedy into a career in fire protection.

Fire protection technologies that stop the passage of smoke, gas and fire from spreading are critical to he...

Next Article
What can you hear if you send a stethoscope into space?
What can you hear if you send a stethoscope into space?

A 3M™ Littmann® stethoscope helped perform telemedicine experiments in space. Learn more today from the 3M ...