The increasing use in medicine and surgery of reduced body temperature in the form of both general1 and regional cooling2 has aroused interest in the physiologic effects of hypothermia. The need for better methods of resuscitation and treatment of persons suffering severe reduction of body temperature through exposure has been amply demonstrated by the experiences of the armed forces in cold latitudes and by the incidence of injury from cold in shipwrecked personnel,3 particularly in the North Atlantic. Fundamental understanding of the physiologic abnormalities produced by reducing the body temperature is necessary before effective therapeutic measures can be devised.
Smith4 summarized the literature up to 1942 and presented in detail the effects of general hypothermia in man. He cited evidence which indicated that "refrigeration was not in itself a serious risk to the average patient." Too literal an interpretation should not be placed on this conclusion.