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. 2020 May 3.
doi: 10.1002/bjs.11679. Online ahead of print.

Safe Management of Surgical Smoke in the Age of COVID-19


Safe Management of Surgical Smoke in the Age of COVID-19

N G Mowbray et al. Br J Surg. .


Background: The COVID-19 global pandemic has resulted in a plethora of guidance and opinion from surgical societies. A controversial area concerns the safety of surgically created smoke and the perceived potential higher risk in laparoscopic surgery.

Methods: The limited published evidence was analysed in combination with expert opinion. A review was undertaken of the novel coronavirus with regards to its hazards within surgical smoke and the procedures that could mitigate the potential risks to healthcare staff.

Results: Using existing knowledge of surgical smoke, a theoretical risk of virus transmission exists. Best practice should consider the operating room set-up, patient movement and operating theatre equipment when producing a COVID-19 operating protocol. The choice of energy device can affect the smoke produced, and surgeons should manage the pneumoperitoneum meticulously during laparoscopic surgery. Devices to remove surgical smoke, including extractors, filters and non-filter devices, are discussed in detail.

Conclusion: There is not enough evidence to quantify the risks of COVID-19 transmission in surgical smoke. However, steps can be undertaken to manage the potential hazards. The advantages of minimally invasive surgery may not need to be sacrificed in the current crisis.

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