Inaccuracy of surgical irrigation fluid temperature hand assessment

Faiz Tuma, Connor Shea, Muhammad Nadeem, Saad Shebrain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Fluids are often used for irrigation during surgical procedures. The temperature of the fluid directly affects the exposed tissue and body temperature. The recommended practice is to use euthermic fluids to be homeostatic and optimise patient care. Hand checking the fluid temperature by surgeons and scrub practitioners is the commonly used method. This subjective measurement leaves room for error and can lead to inaccuracies. The purpose of the study is to assess the accuracy of the currently used method of checking irrigation fluids temperature by hand immersion. Method: Two sets of fluids were prepared. One was made at 37°C and the other was 30°C. Participants immersed their hands in the containers and then report if each of the two sets is (1) appropriately warm for irrigation, (2) too cool and (3) too warm. Data were collected and interpreted. Results: Results showed that about half of participants in our study perceived normal physiologic fluid temperature as too hot for use in irrigation, 30°C fluid was perceived as appropriate and physiologic by about a quarter of participants. Conclusions: Perception of surgical irrigation fluid temperature by hand immersion is inaccurate. Standard objective methods of measuring the temperature are recommended.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Perioperative Practice
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Perception bias
  • Postoperative complications
  • Surgical homeostasis
  • Washout fluid


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