CHICAGO, IL – In an effort to remove excess body heat that orthopedic surgeons generate, OR manufacturer Slyker has paired with refrigerator maker Frigid-Air to market the first sub-zero operating room.
Recent studies have shown that orthopedic surgeons generate more metabolic heat than the average human. This is due to the large amounts of protein shakes and B-vitamins consumed as well as their ox-like grip strength. This excess heat has reduced the efficiency of surgeons around the country. Up until now, a practical means for providing a personal heat sink, such as a cooling suit, have failed. It seems the obvious solution is to cool down the entire room.
Slyker CEO Paul Sherman explains, “I was at the aquarium with my two children and we were visiting the penguin exhibit. I thought to myself, if that penguin can be comfortable, then there is no reason I can’t make an orthopedic surgeon comfortable.” From this, the sub-zero operating room was born.
“There were a few issues to consider,” continues Sherman. “Even with the current OR environment there always seems to be a short supply of warming blankets because anesthesia is wearing them like shawls. You can always tell who the anesthesiologist is by who is wrapped up in the most blankets.” To combat these problems, Slyker has also come out with Parka-inspired scrubs for the anesthesiologists and CRNAs.
Patient safety with the sub-zero temperatures was also addressed. “What we learned from the Arctic-Sun Protocol is that patients do better the colder they are,” Sherman adds. “Sure every single one of them under current conditions complain about how cold the room or table is the moment they enter the room, but patient comfort is only a secondary concern.” Nevertheless, in order to prevent denaturing of essential proteins, a radiation-heated OR table has been installed that uses the X-rays emitted from the C-arm to warm the patient. “Now there is a direct relationship between number of fluoro shots and patient warming.”
Each operating room, complete with accessories to prevent frost-bite for ancillary staff, costs $2.7 million to install and $40 a minute to operate, which is 200% over the current OR operating costs. Sherman concludes, “The cost of chilling the entire room and making everyone else adapt to it is justified if it makes our orthopedic surgeons more comfortable, more productive.”
However, the first trial of the sub-zero OR was not as successful as expected. In spite of the irrigation at the end of the case being frozen over, the orthopedic surgeon asked on 4 occasions to turn the temperature down in the room. When removing his lead at the end of the case, his scrubs were still saturated in sweat. Luckily, there was one unexpected benefit revealed during the trial; blood loss truly was minimal. “Apparently blood has the viscosity of molasses at arctic-like temperatures,” confesses Sherman, “which gave ample time for the orthopedic surgeon to coagulate all the bleeders.” Further design modifications are expected prior to release for hospital use.