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Surgical smoke and infection control

  • E. Alp
    Affiliations
    Nijmegen University Centre of Infections Diseases, Radboud University Medical Centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

    Department of Infectious Diseases, Faculty of Medicine, Erciyes University, Kayseri, Turkey
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  • D. Bijl
    Affiliations
    Department of Central Sterilization, University Medical Centre St Radboud, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
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  • R.P. Bleichrodt
    Affiliations
    Division of Abdominal Surgery, Department of Surgery, University Medical Centre St Radboud, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
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  • B. Hansson
    Affiliations
    Division of Abdominal Surgery, Department of Surgery, University Medical Centre St Radboud, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
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  • A. Voss
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author. Address: Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Canisius-Wilhelmina Hospital, P.O. Box 9015, 6500 GS Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Tel.: +31 24 3657515; fax: +31 24 3657516.
    Affiliations
    Nijmegen University Centre of Infections Diseases, Radboud University Medical Centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

    Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Canisius-Wilhelmina Hospital, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
    Search for articles by this author

      Summary

      Gaseous byproducts produced during electrocautery, laser surgery or the use of ultrasonic scalpels are usually referred to as ‘surgical smoke’. This smoke, produced with or without a heating process, contains bio-aerosols with viable and non-viable cellular material that subsequently poses a risk of infection (human immunodeficiency virus, hepatitis B virus, human papillomavirus) and causes irritation to the lungs leading to acute and chronic inflammatory changes. Furthermore, cytotoxic, genotoxic and mutagenic effects have been demonstrated. The American Occupational Safety and Health Administration have estimated that 500 000 workers are exposed to laser and electrosurgical smoke each year. The use of standard surgical masks alone does not provide adequate protection from surgical smoke. While higher quality filter masks and/or double masking may increase the filtration capability, a smoke evacuation device or filter placed near (2–5 cm) the electrocautery blade or on endoscope valves offers additional (and necessary) safety for operating personnel and patients.

      Keywords

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