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Surgical Smoke Plume An Underrated Biohazard

Smoke evacuation system can effectively eliminate or reduce exposure

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 26 (HealthDay News) -- All operating rooms should have a smoke evacuation system to eliminate surgical smoke plume, the gaseous by-product of processes such as electrosurgery, laser ablation and ultrasonic scalpel dissection, according to a paper published in the December issue of the AORN Journal.

Lorraine Bigony, of Frankford Hospitals in Langhorne, Pa., reviewed five quantitative research studies on the characteristics of surgical smoke plume and the use of smoke evacuation systems. She writes that surgical smoke plume affects surgeons because they are closest to the tissue destruction as well as perioperative personnel because they experience chronic exposure.

The five studies show that surgical smoke plume contains toxic chemicals, may seed malignant cells and can be a mode of disease transmission. Consistent use of smoke evacuation was the only way to reduce or remove exposure, the studies found.

"Surgical smoke plume quickly dissipates; therefore, it fails to garner the attention afforded to material soiled with blood or other body fluids. In view of the research, however, it would appear that the designation of surgical smoke plume as a biohazard should be equal to that of other harmful waste products. As such, it would be reasonable to expect that the same type of safeguards be implemented to avoid exposure."

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