Operating during COVID-19: Is there a risk of viral transmission from surgical smoke during surgery?

Operating during COVID-19: Is there a risk of viral transmission from surgical smoke during surgery?

Can J Surg 2020;63(3):E299-E301 | PDF

Phil Vourtzoumis, MDCM; Nawar Alkhamesi, MD, PhD; Ahmad Elnahas, MD, MSc; Jeffrey E. Hawel, MD; Christopher Schlachta, MDCM

Summary

The World Health Organization declared a pandemic when coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) started to sweep the globe. Growing concerns for the safety of health care workers was raised when up to 80% of people with COVID-19 showed mild or no symptoms at all. Some surgical procedures will be inevitable during the pandemic, and proper safety measures must be in place to avoid transmission risks. Surgical smoke is a common by-product from the use of energy devices in the operating room. The effects of surgical smoke have been studied for more than 40 years, and potential health hazards have been reported. Chemicals, carcinogens and biologically active materials, such as bacteria and viruses, have been isolated in surgical smoke. To ensure the safety of operating room personnel, we must consider whether there is any concern of viral transmission from the inhalation of surgical smoke.


Accepted May 11, 2020

Affiliations: From the Department of General Surgery, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Western University, London, Ont.

Competing interests: None declared.

Contributors: All authors contributed substantially to the conception, writing and revision of this article and approved the final version for publication.

DOI: 10.1503/cjs.007020

Correspondence to: P. Vourtzoumis, Department of General Surgery, Western University, 339 Windermere Rd., London ON N6A 5A5, pvourtzo@uwo.ca