Fiberoptic light source-induced surgical fires - The contribution of forced-air warming blankets

D. M. Williams, S. Littwin, A. J. Patterson, J. G. Brock-Utne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


Background: Fiberoptic light sources have been identified as a fire ignition mechanism in the operating room. This study attempted to determine whether a forced-air warming blanket (FAWB) could affect the ignition or spread of fire caused by a fiberoptic light source. Methods: We exposed surgical drapes to a fiberoptic light source at close range. The results were categorized according to time to first smoke and damage resulting at 1 min. Data were analyzed using the Mann-Whitney rank-sum test. Results: The sums of the rank values for the components of the drape indicated that there was a greater than 96.8-99.2% chance that the FAWB accelerated the time to first smoke. The FAWB appeared to protect the patient gown from damage during all trials. The presence of an FAWB under a surgical drape accelerated the time to first smoke when exposed to unprotected fiberoptic light sources, yet prevented damage to the underlying patient gown. In an actual surgical setting, it is likely that the FAWB would offer some protection to the patient's skin directly below the surgical drape. Conclusion: It is likely that the FAWB can offer some protection to the patient should an unprotected fiberoptic light source cause a fire.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)505-508
Number of pages4
JournalActa Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2006



  • Bair Hugger
  • Fiberoptic light source
  • Fire
  • Forced-air warming blanket
  • Operating room safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

Cite this