Patient Warming - Technology
Inditherm's patient warming products are based on their patented carbon polymer technology. This provides a completely uniform conductive heating surface, which is extremely flexible and is powered at low voltage (24Vac). There are no heating "elements", so warming is completely even, avoiding hot and cold spots and allowing much better heat transfer.
The carbon polymer is combined with a viscoelastic foam pad to give unrivalled heat transfer characteristics. The pliable heating surface provided by the polymer allows it to be placed above the pressure relieving pad, ensuring that there is no attenuation of the warming performance. The combination of these two materials allows the heating surface to mould itself to the shape of each individual patient, giving the largest possible area of contact. The viscoelastic properties ensure that the warming mattress returns to its original flat surface once the patient is removed, ready to be used for the next case. The mattress is encapsulated in a latex-free, nylon fabric cover, with non-microporous polyurethane coating, which is fully sealed with RF welded seams. This unique design ensures that the highest possible thermal transfer characteristics can be achieved, giving the best warming performance available.
Comparison with conventional heated mattresses
The carbon polymer technology is extremely durable and should not be confused with carbon fibre materials, which suffer from limited life and degradation of performance due to the fragile nature of the individual fibres and their consequent breakage during routine use. Similarly, there is no comparison between the Inditherm system and conventional technology mattresses; the latter typically use elements for heating and therefore cannot give anything like the same warming characteristics, which in most cases is further hampered by the need to use gel pads between the patient and the heating surface, for pressure relief. The Inditherm polymer also eliminates the risk of burning patients, which is associated with broken heating elements in traditional electrical mattresses. Water mattresses can give reasonable heating performance; however they are not nearly as convenient, typically suffer from reliability problems with annoying leakages and are normally considerably more expensive.
Forced air warming has been the dominant technology for over a decade. However, this method is not always considered convenient, requiring a special blanket on top of the patient and therefore reducing ease of access to the patient for the surgical, nursing and anaesthetic teams. Further, forced air also warms the surrounding environment and staff and can thus affect laminar flow operating room systems. The cost of disposable items associated with air warming is significant and may have an effect on the number of patients being actively warmed. As a result, ever increasing numbers of users are finding that the Inditherm system is much more effective, convenient and economical than forced air warming, and the standard therefore looks likely to change rapidly in the coming years.
Safe and easy to use
A control unit is used to maintain the mattresses and blankets at the user-selected temperature. Temperature is monitored by a thermistor built into the mattress or blanket and this signal is used to allow control of the power supplied. The control unit uses a transformer to convert the mains input to 24Vac, and regulates this to achieve and maintain the required heating. This low voltage operation ensures safety for both patient and staff, and the system is fully isolated and approved to medical device regulations for Class II, Type BF. A thermal cut-out is also integrated into the mattress or blanket to prevent over-temperature.