The hospital received four hyperthermia systems, each costing Rs. 1.5 lakh

In the last one month, there have been no newborn deaths during the post-operative stage from hypothermia at the Institute of Child Health (ICH), Egmore.

The reason — the hospital has recently received four hyperthermia systems (baby-warming units), which can be used during surgery.

The hospital received the equipment, each costing Rs. 1.5 lakh, through the State government and National Rural Health Mission a month ago. It is the first government institution in the State to have the facility. This is part of the measures to reduce infant mortality rate, S. Srinivasan, State NRHM coordinator, said.

“ICH performs at least two neonatal surgeries a day, most commonly for intestinal problems. We lose babies due to several complications and one of the commonest causes is hypothermia. For low weight and pre-term babies, the surface area is larger than their body weight, they have less fat, less brown fat and cannot produce heat,” he explained.

Inside the airconditioned operation theatres, newborns tend to have low body temperatures. “The overhead warmers cannot be used inside the operation theatres. The hyperthermia systems are portable and can be used during surgery,” Dr. Srinivasan said.

Surgery takes a minimum of one hour to two-and-a-half hours and it was important to maintain the temperature for the baby, V. Pankajavalli, chief anaesthetist, ICH, said.

“Prolonged hypothermia, say for two hours, during surgery, could delay recovery of the newborn. Due to the new equipment, there has been no morbidity related to hypothermia in sick newborns in the last one month,” she said. At least 60 newborns have undergone surgery in the last one month.

The equipment helps in circulating warm air during surgery, ensuring that the newborn’s body maintains a constant temperature. In hypothermia, the heart rate and respiration rate goes down and the brain’s activity is also reduced, doctors say.

Dr. Srinivasan said, provision of the equipment to other government hospitals in the State, which perform a number of paediatric surgeries, would be considered.

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