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J Occup Med Toxicol. 2008 Dec 3;3:31. doi: 10.1186/1745-6673-3-31.

Surgical smoke and ultrafine particles.

Author information

1
Helmholtz Zentrum München, German Research Center for Environmental Health, Institute of Epidemiology, Neuherberg, Germany.
2
Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Klinikum Grosshadern, Department of Surgery, München, Germany.
3
University of Augsburg, Center for Science and Environment, Augsburg, Germany.
4
Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Institute and Outpatient Clinic for Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine, München, Germany.
5
IBE (Chair of Epidemiology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University) München, Germany.
#
Contributed equally

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Electrocautery, laser tissue ablation, and ultrasonic scalpel tissue dissection all generate a 'surgical smoke' containing ultrafine (<100 nm) and accumulation mode particles (< 1 mum). Epidemiological and toxicological studies have shown that exposure to particulate air pollution is associated with adverse cardiovascular and respiratory health effects.

METHODS:

To measure the amount of generated particulates in 'surgical smoke' during different surgical procedures and to quantify the particle number concentration for operation room personnel a condensation particle counter (CPC, model 3007, TSI Inc.) was applied.

RESULTS:

Electro-cauterization and argon plasma tissue coagulation induced the production of very high number concentration (> 100000 cm-3) of particles in the diameter range of 10 nm to 1 mum. The peak concentration was confined to the immediate local surrounding of the production side. In the presence of a very efficient air conditioning system the increment and decrement of ultrafine particle occurrence was a matter of seconds, with accumulation of lower particle number concentrations in the operation room for only a few minutes.

CONCLUSION:

Our investigation showed a short term very high exposure to ultrafine particles for surgeons and close assisting operating personnel - alternating with longer periods of low exposure.

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