Several studies have shown that the waste heat from forced-air warming (FAW) escapes near the floor and warms the contaminated air resident near the floor. The waste heat then forms into convection currents that rise up and contaminate the sterile field above the surgical table. It has been shown that a single airborne bacterium can cause a periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) following joint replacement surgery. We retrospectively compared PJI rates during a period of FAW to a period of air-free conductive fabric electric warming (CFW) at three hospitals. Surgical and antibiotic protocols were held constant. The pooled multicenter data showed a decreased PJI rate of 78% following the discontinuation of FAW and a switch to air-free CFW (n=2034; P=0.002). The 78% reduction in joint implant infections observed when FAW was discontinued suggests that there is a link between the waste FAW heat and PJIs.
Infection; Wound; Surgical site infection; Nosocomial infections; Health care associated infections