An Update on Surgical Smoke

An Update on Surgical Smoke

An increasing amount of research confirms that surgical smoke can contain toxic gases and vapors such as benzene, hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde and bioaerosols, as well as live cellular material and viruses


“While exposure of surgical smoke to patients is short term and relatively low risk, surgeons, perioperative nurses and other operating room staff are exposed to surgical smoke daily,” Ana Pujols McKee, MD, the executive vice president, chief medical officer, and chief diversity and inclusion officer at the Joint Commission, said in a press release. “At high concentrations, surgical smoke may cause ocular and upper respiratory tract irritation and potentially create visual problems for the surgeon. This is why it is so important for hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers to be aware of the risks of surgical smoke and how they can best mitigate those risks.”

The literature reveals that nanoparticles comprise 80% of surgical smoke and are the real danger in inhaled smoke (Biointerphases 2007;2[4]:MR17-MR71). These particles are less than 100 nanometers in size (i.e., 0.1 micron), and when inhaled, enter a person’s blood and lymphatic circulatory systems and travel to distant organs (Circulation 2002;105[4]:411-414).

In an effort to keep health care workers up-to-date, the Joint Commission recently published a new advisory, “Alleviating the dangers of surgical smoke,” which reviews current regulations, recommendations and standards from several governmental and professional organizations.



Carole Uhlig

Carole L. Uhlig is from San Antonio and has always been interested in amazing new things and that led her to geekdom. Carole researches and reports on medical advances and robotics. She also enjoys her scooter and Youtube .

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