Surgical smoke and the anesthesia provider

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Surgical smoke generated by use of electrosurgical units (ESUs), lasers, and ultrasonic scalpels constitutes a physical, chemical, and biological hazard for anesthesia personnel. Inhalation of particulate matter with inflammatory consequences, pulmonary injury from products of tissue pyrolysis, exposure to mutagens and carcinogens, and the transmission of human papillomavirus (HPV) and possibly other pathogens represent a spectrum of adverse effects associated with the occupational exposure to surgical plume. While adequate operating room ventilation and use of high filtration-efficiency masks offer some protection from these conditions, the most effective method of safeguarding against surgical smoke involves its removal with a dedicated smoke evacuation device (SED). Despite the fact that many professional and governmental agencies have endorsed widespread usage of SEDs, anesthesia providers have been largely silent on this subject, with few reports within the field of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine regarding these hazards. SED use is relatively infrequent in most surgeries, and this condition reflects surgeons’ reluctance to employ these devices, likely resulting from lack of education and less than optimal technology. Anesthesia societies and academic centers can serve critical roles in advocating employment of SEDs in much the same way that they have supported perioperative smoking cessation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)575-584
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Anesthesia
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • Hazards
  • Smoke evacuation
  • Surgical smoke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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