Why Do We Feel Cold After Surgery with Spinal Anesthesia?

Discover why the sensation of cold after spinal anesthesia occurs and how anesthesiologists prevent it. Learn more about safety in surgery.

Spinal anesthesia is a widely used anesthetic technique in surgical procedures, especially in the lower body region. It is known for its effectiveness and rapid recovery. However, many patients report feeling cold and experiencing shivering after anesthesia. Why does this happen? Let’s explore the physiological and pharmacological mechanisms behind this sensation and how anesthesiologists can prevent and treat this post-operative discomfort.

 

What Is Spinal Anesthesia?

Spinal anesthesia is an anesthetic technique that involves the administration of anesthetics directly into the subarachnoid space of the spinal cord. This temporarily blocks the conduction of nerve impulses in that area, resulting in localized anesthesia. Spinal anesthesia is commonly used in lower limb surgeries, cesarean sections, and other procedures in the pelvic and abdominal regions.

 

Mechanism of Action of Spinal Anesthesia

To understand why patients may feel cold after spinal anesthesia, it is important to know the mechanism of action of this technique. Spinal anesthesia interferes with the transmission of nerve signals in the spinal cord, blocking the sensation of pain and temperature in the affected area.

 

Why Do We Feel Cold After Spinal Anesthesia?

 

  1. Interference with the Autonomic Nervous System

Spinal anesthesia affects the autonomic nervous system, which regulates involuntary bodily functions, including body temperature. When this system is disrupted by anesthesia, a drop in body temperature can occur.

 

  1. Vasodilation and Blood Redistribution

The anesthetics used in spinal anesthesia can cause vasodilation, leading to a redistribution of blood flow. This means that blood flows more to the skin and less to the core of the body, where temperature is maintained. This results in a feeling of cold on the skin.

 

  1. Lack of Muscle Movement

During surgery under spinal anesthesia, patients cannot move, which can lead to a lack of heat generated by muscle movement.

 

How to Prevent the Sensation of Cold?

To prevent the discomfort caused by cold after spinal anesthesia, anesthesiologists take proactive measures:

 

Body Warming

Heated blankets and covers are often used to keep patients warm during surgery.

 

Temperature Monitoring

Continuous monitoring of body temperature helps healthcare professionals detect and treat significant drops in temperature.

 

Administration of Medications

In some cases, medications can be administered to prevent shivering and sensations of cold.

 

Complications of Post-Operative Cold

Feeling cold after spinal anesthesia is not just uncomfortable; it can also lead to complications such as respiratory infections and heart problems due to increased stress on the body. Therefore, proper temperature control is crucial.

 

The Importance of Pre-Anesthetic Assessment

While feeling cold after surgery with spinal anesthesia is common, anesthesiologists have several strategies to prevent and treat this discomfort. Pre-anesthetic assessment is essential to properly plan anesthesia and ensure the patient’s safety and comfort. So, if you are scheduling surgery with spinal anesthesia, know that specialists are prepared to take care of you and minimize any post-operative discomfort.

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