Surgical smoke is a by-product of energy-based surgical instruments. Any procedure that is done with the use of a surgical device used to cut, desiccate, and ablate tissue can produce surgical smoke when tissues vaporise. Staff and patients who are exposed to operating environments are all vulnerable to the risks of surgical smoke. Made up of water and other chemicals, surgical smoke can easily permit bacteria and viruses to spread.  

Additionally, there’s evidence that inhaling surgical smoke can increase your risk of exhibiting respiratory tract symptoms as well as expose you to possible infective and carcinogenic risks. We discuss the potential health risks concerning surgical smoke, and determine what instruments are available to reduce exposure and risks.  

What does surgical smoke contain?

Surgical smoke contains chemicals, toxic gasses and viral products that came from the process of tissue destruction. By virtue of their participation in the surgery, medical staff and patients can inhale increased levels of pollutants, which can lead to several respiratory problems. There are also carcinogens and biological hazards that are released during electro and laser surgery including:  

  • Viruses, such as Hepatitis B & C, HIV, and HIPV. 
  • Bacteria like Aureus, Tuberculosis and Coli spores. 
  • Carcinogens like acetylene, formaldehyde and propane. 

These chemicals and bacteria are linked to various diseases such as general respiratory congestion, and skin, eyes, and throat irritation. Generally, these chemicals can also be the cause of dizziness, nausea, anxiety, increased blood pressure, gastrointestinal issues, and respiratory tract irritation.  

Major Hazards of Surgical Smoke

1. Poor Visibility 

Surgical smoke poses a threat in operating theatres when it reduces visibility in the room. During procedures, surgical teams may find it challenging when visibility declines due to the smoke emitted by surgical devices. 

2. Unpleasant Odour  

Surgical smoke releases strong odours coming from different particulates, gases, and vapours. The foul odour can serve as the first warning sign of toxicity. Even though surgical smoke is mostly water vapor, it contains more than a hundred chemicals. Inhaling this could lead to health problems in the long-term. 

3. Biological Contaminants 

As mentioned above, surgical smoke contains a variety of biological contaminants and respiratory irritants. According to a study by Mihashi et al., as referenced in Nursing Center, the burning of 1g of tissue can release the same level of contaminants as three to six cigarettes. As well as presenting a hazard to the operating staff and the patient, these biological contaminants can permeate the surgical supplies

 Technological Solutions

To reduce the hazardous risks of surgical smoke, facilities are encouraged to provide in-depth knowledge and education for perioperative team members on the risks of surgical smoke. Clinicians and medical workplaces should retain a surgical smoke-free environment by complying with mandatory safety standards. No matter the amount, it’s essential to evacuate the smoke in surgical smoke generating procedures. 

Ensure a surgical smoke safe environment

Having 32 years’ worth of experience in providing medical products and necessary for the medical sector, Endovision continues to invest in a product range that helps transform the medical field. 

Endovision proudly carries the In Pendant Smoke Evacuation System (IPSES), an existing technology that is utilised in Australian and New Zealand Hospital projects. In fact, the use of smoke evacuation has become mandatory in ACORD Standards. Through the IPSES, medical facilities can significantly reduce the hazards of surgical smoke. IPSES clears the air in theatre, ensures surgeon visibility, and removes dangerous gases. Additionally, the system is easy to use and works with zero noise. 

For a surgical smoke safe workplace, choose Endovision as your partner. We provide clients with world-class products that advocate for patient safety and quality equipment. Contact us today!