Applying ice to injuries and post-operative sites is a common and effective practice. Research has found that the ideal temperature to reduce pain and swelling is 15 degrees. The Hilotherm system can be used to apply this exact temperature on the tissues continuously for the first 24 -48 hours.
The science behind the technology
Cool therapy or cryotherapy is well established for sports injuries and after surgery. After tissue injury there is a release of biochemicals that are mediators of inflammation which make blood vessels dilate and become more leaky. This causes swelling and also sensitises the tissues to pain. Applying cool therapy inhibits the release of the inflammatory mediators and constricts blood vessels making them less leaky. It has been found that temperatures below 15 degrees causes vessels to dilate and reduces the effect of cool therapy. Maintaining the best temperature over long periods is difficult to achieve with ice based strategies. The Hilotherm technology controls the temperature in the most therapeutic range.
How the Hilotherm machine works
The Hilotherm machine is basically a machine to cool water to a specific temperature. The water is then circulated in small tubes like capillaries around a pad that is applied to the skin over a surgical site. The temperature of the circulating water can be adjusted for comfort. Around the face these special pads are disposable
The machine requires distilled water in its reservoir to work. The reservoir will be topped up as it is given to you by the practice staff. You should not need to top up the water reservoir but if you do, please only use the water provided in the carry bag.
The practice staff will also attach the special pad onto the machine to check it and show you how to apply it, you should not need to detach the pad. If you do it can be reconnected onto the blue tubes with the click fit connector.
For more information on the Hilotherm and Hilotherapy feel free to visit their website: www.hilotherapy.com
How much should Hilotherm be used after Surgery
Most patients will derive significant benefit from the machine in the first 48 hours. After 48 hours there is no new swelling. It is safe and beneficial to be used full time if desired for the first 48 hours. The most benefit is gained by near continuous use in the first 24 hours after surgery.
People will often sleep with the cuff on but during sleep if the patient changes position the tubing can kink and the flow can be obstructed causing the machine to alarm. If this is too interrupting for sleep the machine may need to be discontinued with overnight. A good starting temperature is 15 degrees but if this is too cold then the temperature can be adjusted up on the machine until it becomes comfortable.
Local pain control of post operation sites is best
Controlling pain and swelling at the surgical site reduces the reliance on medication. Pain control medications can cause unwanted side effects such as nausea, vomiting and constipation. Hilotherm has been shown to significantly reduce the amount of post-operative pain control medications that patients need to take. Patients who need to take less pain medication recover better and quicker.
AGREEMENT TO HIRE
The use of the machine is an additional cost to the surgery. We will require a credit card in order to hire the machine. A standard rental agreement is for the machine to be returned after 48 hours, or on the next working day following a weekend or public holiday. If you wish to keep the machine for longer please contact our practice. If the machine is kept longer without contacting our practice then this will incur an additional fee.
Fitting the Hilotherm pads to the face
Fit the facial pad with the tubing to the left side of your face. The facial pad is held on by two elastic tapes with Velcro to secure. One goes behind the neck and the other over the top of the head. Use the elastic tapes to hold the pads against the skin without tension. This is not a pressure bandage, too much tension will obstruct the flow of the water. We recommend placing the attached pad on a flat surface and filling prior to fitting to the face.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best temperature?
15 degrees is ideal but the temperature can be adjusted upwards if this is uncomfortable.
How tight should I pull the straps?
Just enough to hold the pads against the skin without tension. Too much tension can obstruct the circulation of water.
How much should I use it?
We recommend using it as much as possible for the first 24 hours and then as required for the next 24 hours.
Why does the flow of water become obstructed?
This is usually because of kinking of the tubing. Reposition the pad and tubing and restart the machine.
Why does the machine keep alarming during sleep?
This is usually because the patient turns over in sleep and kinks the tubing. If this is problematic the use of the machine may need discontinuing until morning.
Do I have to do anything to the machine when I return it?
Just put the machine back in the carry bag as it is provided, please do not remove the pads. The practice staff will undertake this and prepare it for the next patient.
If the machine does not work there are three main causes of this:
If the tubing becomes kinked and obstructs the flow the machine will alarm and state it has obstructed flow. Re-position the tubing and reset the machine.
Lack of Water
If the reservoir is empty remove the cap on the top of the machine and fill it up with the provided distilled water, please do not use tap water.
If there is an electrical connection problem check that all the electrical wires are secured and the power is on at the wall.
If problems remain please contact our practice during working hours.
Returning the machine
Please return the machine in the carry bag during clinic opening hours which are 8.00 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday.