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Eliminating the hazards of surgical plume

Steve Veck, an electro surgery consultant, discusses the dangers associated with surgical plume and the need for plume evacuation devices.

Steve Veck, an electro surgery consultant, discusses the dangers associated with surgical plume and the need for plume evacuation devices. He argues that the UK is lagging behind other countries in implementing statutory legal requirements. 

Surgical plume is an inevitable result of interventional procedures where electrosurgery (diathermy), laser and ultrasonic devices cut into tissue. It can release an unpleasant odour but, more importantly, can contain toxic, infectious or carcinogenic material – such as hydrogen peroxide gas, human papillomavirus (HPV) or SARS-CoV-2 – that could be hazardous to theatre staff or indeed the patient. As a result, exposure to surgical plume has been linked to eye, nose and throat irritation, nausea, headaches, coughs, nasal congestion, asthma, and asthma-like symptoms. 

Several plume evacuation devices designed to capture and remove the surgical plume from the operating site have emerged in an attempt to overcome its dangers and, while they offer a safe solution for many operating procedures, not all countries mandate their use, and they are not used routinely in the majority of surgical specialties – the one exception being gynaecology. This article explores the incidence of surgical plume and discusses how and why this issue should be efficiently and consistently eradicated from surgical departments everywhere. 

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Upcoming Events

AfPP Annual Conference 2022

University of York
8-11 September 2022

Infection 360: What's trending in infection prevention & control

Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham
27-28 September 2022

IP2022 IS COMING TO BOURNEMOUTH IN OCTOBER 2022

Bournemouth
17-19 October 2022

UKHCA Conference: Listen Up

Pendulum Hotel and Manchester Conference Centre, Manchester
3rd November 2022

MEDICA 2022

Dusseldorf Germany
14th November - 17th November

Future Surgery 2022

ExCel, London
15th - 16th November 2022

Access the latest issue of Clinical Services Journal on your mobile device together with an archive of back issues.

Download the FREE Clinical Services Journal app from your device's App store

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