Local hypothermia may be very beneficial prior to the amputation of an extremity in which infection is present or in which there is intense ischemic pain. Clinical experience has shown preoperative refrigeration of the part brings about relief of pain, controls infection, aids in the management of diabetes, and may result in a general over-all improvement in the patient's preoperative condition.
The "wet-ice" technique was used in the past to accomplish regional cooling. In this procedure, the foot, leg, hand, or arm was surrounded by a supposedly water-tight container and then packed with ice. The method was attended by certain nursing problems. Almost invariably the bed became wet and maceration of tissues often followed. It was not possible to keep the container water tight, nor to prevent it from "sweating" on the outside.
Because of these problems, a mechanical refrigeration unit for local cooling was developed in this department by
FUSON RL. Hypothermia Prior to AmputationNew Instrument for Induction by Local Refrigeration. Arch Surg. 1962;85(6):1008-1010. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1962.01310060144025