A novel approach to rapid rewarming of a frostbitten extremity: The sous vide method.


Department of Emergency Medicine, Stroger Cook County Hospital, Chicago, IL, United States of America. Electronic address: [Email]


BACKGROUND : Rapid rewarming of an acutely frostbitten extremity has been the standard treatment for nearly 60 years, however, there are no existing practical recommendations to create a warm water bath. Our study describes a novel approach to rapid rewarming using a sous vide cooking device to create and maintain a circulating warm water bath at a desired set temperature.
METHODS : A series of in vitro experiments were performed to assess the efficacy of different methods of maintaining constant water temperature while rapidly rewarming a simulated frostbitten extremity (frozen pig's foot). An Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker® was attached to a 5 gallon bucket and used to circulate and maintain the water at 104 °F while rewarming a frozen pig's foot. This method was compared to manual exchange of water to maintain the temperature at 104 °F and to a control with no water exchanged. During each experiment, the temperature of the water was recorded every 2 min and the pliability of the pig's foot was assessed after 30 min.
RESULTS : The sous vide method maintained circulating water at a constant temperature of 104 °F for 30 min. At 30 min the frozen pig's foot was warm, soft, and pliable. The manual method resulted in temperature fluctuations requiring frequent large volume water exchanges. When no water was exchanged, the water cooled quickly and the pig's foot remained partially frozen.
CONCLUSIONS : Sous vide rewarming is a novel method that easily creates and maintains a warm water bath ideal for rapid rewarming of a frostbitten extremity.

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