An intravenous or IV warming device warms fluids provided to patients through an IV. Previous models operated on AC power, were larger, and less effective. They could not be easily transported with patients to other facility areas or used in emergency response situations. Today technology has been used to improve the efficiency of these valuable treatment tools. Portable units are now powered by battery. Their design is very lightweight. They have capabilities for intravenous application as well as irrigation warming. Many facilities use these devices to reduce the likelihood of fluid-induced hypothermia. Warmers can use dry heat, water, or heat exchange technology to increase fluid temperature before it enters the IV. Heat exchange devices are the most effective of the three methods. This is because microprocessors and additional technology have been applied to their design to increase performance.
Mechanical Components Which Improve the IV Warmer
One such technology is called smart disposable. Typical warmers have a separate instrument for the disposal path. A cassette or special tubing is utilized for disposal. Newer designs have all the standard features required for a sterile fluid path. Advanced technology however, removes the need for previous disposal materials. A microprocessor in the IV warmer regulates fluid path heating. An integral heater control board is combined with a heat exchanger. These mechanical parts are protected by flame resistant plastic. Stainless steel is used for the tubing. The coil shaped stainless steel makes up the fluid path for the heat exchanger. A flex circuit is then welded to the fluid path. Standard fittings are applied for increased compatibility between IV administration and extension sets. The fluid stream itself contains two sensors which obtain an exact temperature measure. This allows for better heat control. An innovative IV warmer promises fewer setup mistakes. Professionals can have more confidence in the outcome of each patient application. Previous designs experience overheating. This is due to overcompensation for reduced thermal conductivity provided by commonly used medical device plastics. Stainless steel has higher heat conductivity. It decreases warming time and can respond faster to flow fluctuations. Overheating is not a concern with well designed equipment.
Low mass heaters are another innovation. Previous products use hot warming plates or a large amount of hot water as the heating mass. When the fluid flow stops, remaining heat is still transferred to the infusate. This results in temperature spikes. Low mass heaters do not supply heat in the event of a stop flow condition. The energy is stored in a very small mass which makes it insignificant. Sources of stored heat are avoided with this type of design. Fluid paths are temperature regulated. The microprocessor circuit controls fluid path temperatures. A failsafe circuit is also located on the control board. It is connected to the flex circuit welded on the fluid path. The processor checks the fluid temperature using the installed sensors. It then adjusts the heating power for temperature consistency. This process is continual until the IV warming device is no longer necessary. Previous heating methods do not have these precautions in place. They are prone to be less safe and unreliable.