Current attitudes and practices towards diathermy smoke

Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2007 Mar;89(2):162-5. doi: 10.1308/003588407X155752.


Introduction: The hazards of surgical smoke are well documented and electrosurgical units (ESUs) are an integral part of surgical practice. The aim of this study was to gauge the opinions of general surgical consultants, specialist registrars and senior theatre nurses in the Wessex Region towards the hazards of ESU smoke.

Materials and methods: A literature search was carried out using Ovid Medline. A questionnaire was sent to 169 consultants, SpRs and nurses in the 14 hospitals across the Wessex Region, exploring current practices, perceived hazards and whether adequate precautions were currently in use.

Results: Only 3 of 98 surgeons used dedicated smoke extractors, despite the fact the majority (72%) felt that, currently, inadequate precautions were taken to protect staff and patients from surgical smoke. There was also uncertainty about the hazards amongst the respondents.

Conclusions: The use of smoke extraction equipment is very limited. Greater awareness of the hazards and available technology to extract fumes from the theatre environment might lead to greater uptake.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Consultants
  • Diathermy / adverse effects*
  • England
  • Humans
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / psychology
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Professional Practice / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoke / adverse effects*


  • Smoke