|MadSci Network: Medicine|
Hi Barbara, Aha! Your suggestion is a good try!! The chance of electrostatic spark causing explosion of anaesthetic gases is EXTREMELY RARE these days because in modern operating theatre (OTs) all the plastic-ware, shoes and the floor are made of conducting material, so everything is like “earthed” (no net charge building up…). In fact, in my experience, operating theatre is not always as cold as you might suggest. If you think physiologically, there are actually reasons to argue against a lowered OT room temperature. First, even room temperature (something like 20 degree Celsius) is already nearly 20 degrees lower than our body temperature so the body is already losing heat; this is worsen by the body being stationary and the general cardio-respiratory depression caused by general anaesthesia. So the main objective should be to maintain body temperature during lengthy surgery. However, you almost certainly feel quite “windy” when you step inside an OT. This is because OTs are maintained in a positive-pressure ventilation system, i.e. filtered air is blown from the surgical suite out into the surrounding area in order to prevent contamination inside the OTs. The reason you feel cooler temperature might be the combination of this “windiness” together with the cool surface of the surgical table and the excitement/nervousness being inside an OT. I hope this helps… Joshua Chai Medical Student University of Cambridge, UK
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